By Roland Sigurdson
Taking the Kids Fishing
To find a fishing site near you, check the Minnesota DNR website for information on fishing piers and public access points (boat launches), and/or with a local bait store, fishing club, or sheriff or water safety patrol. Your friends and neighbors may have first-hand knowledge of fishing sites that have worked for taking kids fishing in the past.
Below are some things to consider when choosing a fishing site for your children or group.
Tips for Choosing a Fishing Spot
- Fishing from low banks that gently slope to the water access/fishing site is the best way to prevent accidents. High, steep banks, especially when wet/muddy, can cause slips and falls.
- Overhead branches or other obstacles that could catch hooks as anglers cast are a problem. Look for an open area for safe casting. Public fishing piers float out over the water making them excellent choices.
- When looking for accessibility to water, find out if there are trails, fishing platforms, or piers available. If you have children with special needs, check out the DNR Open The Outdoors website to find ADA compliant sites.
- Fast-moving water can be dangerous. If fishing on a river or fast stream, position an adult downstream from the group to mark a boundary and aid in rescue if someone should fall in upstream.
- Water near dams and reservoir releases can be deep, with strong and unpredictable currents. Avoid choosing these areas as fishing spots. Instead, chose a safe, productive area along the shoreline of a pond, lake, or stream.
- Beach or swimming areas are not good spots for fishing.Most parks do not allow fishing in the swimming area. Fish at a distance from beaches for public safety and to keep lost hooks out of swimming areas. Besides, good fish habitat, including aquatic plants, submerged logs, rocks, brush piles, stumps, docks, or piers are usually removed to create swimming areas.
Other Important Considerations
- The availability of adequate shade near your fishing locations it important. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause burns on both sunny and overcast days. The sun’s reflection on water can also make it difficult to watch a bobber or to look under the surface of the water. Provide frequent shade breaks to let kids cool off and get out of the sun to avoid sunburn and dehydration (losing too much water).
- Bring along and use waterproof sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15. Students should wear sunglasses, polarized if possible, and a hat with a brim to shield eyes from the sun. Sunglasses and hats will also help protect eyes and ears from any misguided hook scratches or punctures, especially when fishing on windy days
- Is there shelter in case on inclement weather (sun, cold, heat, wind, rain, hail, lightning, tornadoes)? School groups should consider keeping buses onsite during trip. If weather becomes threatening, you can come back to fish another day.
- Make sure that restrooms are available and stocked. It is also good to check if running water is available for washing hands. Bring extra toilet paper, and soap or antiseptic wipes.
- Determine if running water is available for drinking. Have water available and provide frequent water breaks to prevent dehydration. nothing ruins a fishing adventure like a dehydration headache.
- Avoid brushy, wooded places or bring insect repellent to deter mosquitoes, biting flies, and ticks.
- Survey the site for plants such as poison ivy, stinging nettles, and wild parsnip. Be certain you can avoid these plants if present in the fishing area.
- Is cell phone coverage available at the site? If you cell phone won't work at the site, make an alternate plan for calling 911 or emergency contacts for students should the need arise.
Many of the tips in this article are from the MinnAqua Fishing: Get In The Habitat! Leaders Guide Lesson 6:1 - Safety and Fishing at the Water's Edge.