Fishing is a time-honored tradition shared by millions of outdoorsmen and women that is passed down from generation to generation. It is one of the simplest forms of outdoor enjoyment and is likely the first outdoor activity children will take part in during their lives.
Panfishing with kids is the best way to get them hooked on fishing, as well as involved in enjoying the outdoors in general. Panfish are arguably one of the easiest species of fish to catch and they can provide plenty of fun and excitement for young ones looking to bend some rods.
Panfish are fiesty swimmers with big appetites and are known for going after smaller baits, which make them perfect for youngsters. The term “panfish” is derived from the fact that most of these fish fit perfectly in a frying pan and are known for being an ideal target for those looking to catch and cook some filets.
Panfish can include crappie, various species of perch and bass, sunfish, bluegill and many more. These fish are found everywhere throughout North America and should be every angler’s first target.
For parents and other adults looking for reasons why panfishing with kids is one of the best forms of fishing, we caught up with some of the best guides from across the United States and got their input on ways to introduce kids to panfishing.
Quantity Over Quality
According to Captain Doug Nelms, owner of Big Fish Heads Guide Service, the best way to start panfishing with kids is to put them on fish and let them catch a good mess.
“Take them out on the water and put them on good fish,” says Capt. Doug. “What I mean is make sure they are in a spot where they will really catch a lot of fish. There aren’t’ many kids that, when they hook up and when the rod bows up and they reel one in, that don’t get excited.”
Capt. Doug’s words ring true for all anglers, especially those who plan on panfishing with kids. As advanced as some anglers may be, it’s always enjoyable to put a simple cork and hook rigged with worms or crickets in the water and catch panfish one after another.
“I’m a Master Captain and have six guides that work with me, and I fish all over the southeast,” says Capt. Doug. “All of that started with me catching bream under cork at a very young age.”
Technique is Key
Sometimes, the best way to get kids on fire for fishing is to tailor your fishing technique specifically to their abilities. Wayne Stewart is the owner of Catchin’ Crappie Guide Service, which is based out of Greers Ferry Lake in Arkansas.
Wayne says that, when it comes to panfishing with kids, he likes to use a long-line rig with jigs to make things as easy as possible for youngsters.
“My favorite way to catch panfish is to use long-lines with jigs because they don’t have to sit there and watch a rod or a cork,” says Wayne. “It makes it easier for them to get around because there’s less line out in the water, and when the crappie hit it, the kids sets the hook themselves and all they have to do is pick the rod up and enjoy the catch.”
Make Time to Go Fishing
This next tip should be obvious, but Richard Tull, owner of LBJ Guide Service, says it’s one that parents should take to heart.
“There’s tons of other things kids can get involved in and it’s not always easy to fit a fishing trip into a busy schedule,” says Wayne.
Wayne runs a successful guide service that’s based in Texas and says that it’s always a pleasure to go panfishing with kids because there’s usually plenty of action.
“It never gets old seeing kids light up and enjoy catching a bunch of fish,” says Wayne. “If parents want to pass down the tradition of fishing and teach their kids to enjoy nature, you have to make it a point to get out there and go fishing. They will likely not learn how to on their own.”
Wayne says that panfishing with kids is the best way to fish because adults sometimes overlook the simpler things of enjoying nature.
“Kids really appreciate every little thing about being on the water and especially catching a mess of fish,” says Wayne. “I have guided a lot of people and I always have the most fun when I get to go panfishing with kids because they seem to really enjoy things a little more and they also appreciate things more.”
Hire a Good Fishing Guide
Last, but certainly not least, on our list of tips for panfishing with kids is the fact that hiring a good fishing guide can make a world of difference. Going panfishing with kids can turn out to be a great experience, but it can also be disastrous if the fish are less than plentiful.
Hiring a reputable guide will boost your chances of catching more fish and making sure your trip on the water is the best experience for young anglers. Skilled fishing guides know where to find those big lunkers, but they also typically know where to catch a mess of fish. It can be a very wise decision to hire a guide to go panfishing with kids and make sure it’s a memorable experience.