School’s out and it’s prime fishing season!  As a kid I caught my share of bluegills from a canoe and trout from the river bank.  My husband and I accrued countless salmon rod hours together in our college days. Now that I’m a mom, I’m making memories with my kids of summer-time spent catching our own dinners.  My boys have loved fishing in the creek since they were tiny…looking for bugs, frogs, and minnows. All three can now use a spinning rod and my oldest is an accomplished fly fisherman.  

90 lb Halibut in Alaska

The biggest fish we’ve ever caught was a 90 lb halibut in Alaska – we’ll never forget taking turns at the reel and the sheer joy when we landed it.

My two year old fishing off the dock at Lake LBJ.

Fishing is so great for kids and you can start today in Austin area lakes, creeks, and ponds.  While my family has taken deep sea fishing trips (like that one time we caught a Galapagos Shark in Hawaii!), we have just as much fun wandering down to Little Barton Creek to cast for bass.  

You don’t have to know much about fishing to have fun dropping a line with your little ones. We’ll throw on swim trunks and flip flops, grab our life jackets and mosey to the nearest body of water.  We bring snacks and towels or a blanket to lay on in the shade when the kids need a break. A bucket or cups keep the younger kids busy while older kids and parents fish.

Don’t forget drinking water, bug spray and sunscreen!

Trout fishing in Colorado.

Kids can and should do fishy things themselves as soon as they are able – they’ll learn with  trial and error.  Toddlers will enjoy catching minnows, “fishing” with a bucket, watching the bobbers, or playing with sticks and rocks.

 Kids as young as three can learn to fish,
although they’ll need help casting. Elementary age kids can typically use a full size spinning rod and handle baiting their own hooks, but may need help tying knots.  When I take my boys fishing I’m there to supervise but they do almost everything themselves. It’s a proud parenting moment when your little one reels in his or her first fish!

Dropping a line in Lake Travis.

The fishing tackle aisle at a sporting goods store can be a little intimidating if you’re new to fishing.  All you really need to catch sunfish or perch from the shoreline or dock is a spinning rod, a bobber, some number 6-8 hooks and bait.  Try live worms or power bait (you can get both at Dick’s Sporting Goods or Academy). My boys have caught baby striped bass with nothing more than a stick, a line, and a piece of hot dog on a hook.  It’s also fun to have a minnow net and a bucket. Clippers or scissors come in handy when you have to put on a new hook. Kids under seventeen don’t even need a fishing license to drop a line, so start with these inexpensive basics and off you go!

A giant bass caught in our neighborhood stock pond.

If you want your kids to love fishing, encourage them to be part of the experience without forcing them to cast the line, bait the hook, or touch a fish until they want to.  Just being around folks who enjoy fishing is usually enough to make them want to do it themselves. Try not to be hard on your kids when they snag a tree or break a line…that’s just part of learning how to fish.  Remember, fishing with kids is about an enjoyable, memorable outing, not the number of fish you catch. As your kids grow into experienced fishermen, they’ll learn about the thrill of having a fish on the line or reeling in a really big one!

Here’s a link to some of our favorite fishing spots in Austin.


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