Gone Fishin'

Teaching Your Kids to Fish During Your Next Houseboat Vacation

August 2017 Feature Jon Sutton - Outdoor Empire Web Exclusive

Most parents want to try out a variety of different activities when taking the family on a houseboat vacation, and fishing is one of the best options available. Fishing not only gives you a great way to bond with your kids and get them some fresh air, it also helps to foster a love of the natural world.

But if you want your kids to love fishing, you’ll need to make sure they actually catch fish. And although this is easier said than done, and you can never guarantee that your kids will catch fish on any given outing, you can significantly improve their chances by embracing the following suggestions:

1. Provide Your Child with Simple Equipment and Tackle.

Don’t hamstring your kids by outfitting them with unnecessarily complicated equipment when they are first learning to fish. A spincasting rod-and-reel combo is very simple to use and ideal for most youngsters, however a spinning combo can also work. Very young children may even have a better time fishing with a cane pole – the simplest possible solution for catching fish.

2. Target Easy-to-Catch Species.

You may prefer going after largemouth bass, pike and other wary gamefish, but your child will have much better luck targeting catfish and bluegill. Fortunately, these species are available in most common houseboat destinations. Both species often congregate near downed trees or around long points, but the shade provided by docks, boat ramps and your houseboat will also attract bluegill (and, to a lesser extent, catfish).

3. Use Productive Baits Rather than Artificial Lures.

Artificial lures may be popular with experienced anglers, but most beginners will elicit more nibbles with real baits. Crickets, earthworms, leeches, minnows and mealworms are all great choices, which will appeal to bluegill and catfish alike. Don’t worry if you can’t find a local bait shop, you can even use a few items in the kitchen to catch these species: Bluegill will often bite hooks baited with corn or doughballs, while catfish can often be caught with hotdog slices, grapes or chicken livers.

4. Fish Alongside Your Kids.

As a general rule, the more baits you have in the water, the more likely it is that you’ll get bites. So, be sure that you bring a rod and reel for yourself when teaching your kids to fish. Just be sure to pass your rod to your youngster whenever you get a bite (set the hook well first to give your child the best chance at success). This way, your child will get to enjoy the best part of fishing and will get to take all the credit when recalling the story later.


Keep these suggestions in mind, and your kids are likely to have a great time learning to fish on your houseboat vacation. Be sure to take plenty of photos while you fish to help you both remember the day for years to come.

If you want to teach your kids to fish during your next houseboating vacation, be sure to check out Outdoor Empire’s review of the topic. There, you’ll learn more about picking good locations to fish with your kids and choosing the best equipment and baits. Fishing isn’t rocket science, but it certainly helps to learn everything you can before heading out to the water.

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