The following blog has been provided by guest contributor Jon Sutton to share his knowledge about fishing with RanchSeeker's readers.
Guest ranch vacations are rarely boring affairs. Throughout your stay, you’ll be immersed in the dude ranch lifestyle. You’ll ride horses, learn rope skills, get a taste of ranch culture and enjoy wonderful cuisine. But most of the best guest ranches also give you the chance to do other things too.
For example, many guest ranches border rivers or lakes and provide great opportunities for fishing. And because most guest ranch vacations are family affairs that include the kids, they provide the perfect opportunity to introduce your kids to the sport.
It’s really a no-lose proposition: Even if the fishing trip doesn’t go well, you’ll get the chance to spend a couple of hours bonding with your children and sharing the great outdoors with them. But if you plan the trip well, you’ll likely have a fantastic time, catch plenty of fish and take home photos of your kids showing off their catch.
Just try to embrace the tips below to ensure that your kids enjoy the best possible fishing experience. If things go well, you may spark a lifelong love of the sport, and help them develop an appreciation of the natural world.
1. Outfit your kids with age- and size-appropriate equipment.
Too often, kids are forced to fish with a parent’s hand-me-down rod, which is essentially guaranteed to be too large and complicated for them. Instead, you’ll want to outfit them with something befitting their size and skill level. A 5- to 6-foot-long spinning or spincasting combo is the ideal rod and reel for most kids who are learning to fish.
2. Pick a good location to fish with your kids.
You have to put your bait where the fish are if you expect to catch any, so don’t just go down to the lake and started casting about randomly. Instead, look for places near vegetation or man-made structures like docks, or where the depth changes abruptly. These are the types of locations in which fish often congregate.
3. Get started early or wait until later in the day.
Fish often exhibit daily activity cycles; they’ll become active and feed during some times and rest during others. In the spring, summer and early fall, these active periods are often most pronounced near dawn and dusk, when the sun is low in the sky. Additionally, these times often offer the most comfortable fishing conditions for you and the kids.
4. Target the species your kids will have the best chance of catching.
Don’t set your kids up for disappointment by trying to catch largemouth bass, walleye or pike. Instead, try to increase your children’s chances of catching fish by targeting abundant, easy-to-catch species. This typically means targeting catfish and bluegill (as well as their relatives), but perch and rainbow trout can also be easy to catch in small ponds that are stocked with them.
5. Use real or live baits, rather than artificial lures.
Fancy artificial lures may be productive and fun to use for experienced anglers, but fishing novices will generally struggle to use them and end up snagging them on the bottom. Instead, use natural or live baits when teaching your kids to fish. For example, small worms, crickets and small dough balls are very effective for catching bluegill, while hot dog slices, grapes and shrimp are excellent catfish baits.
6. Keep things light, positive and fun.
Chances are, it may take a little while for your kids to get their first nibbles. This can lead to frustration, which can cause them to lose interest in fishing altogether. Accordingly, you’ll need to maintain a positive attitude and ensure that they’re still entertained and happy while learning to be patient. So, make sure to learn plenty of kid-friendly jokes and allow them frequent breaks to explore the shoreline or chase frogs, if necessary. They’ll usually regain their interest in a few minutes and do so with renewed determination.
If you follow these tips and tricks, you’ll set yourself up for a great day on the water and help your kids form memories that’ll last a lifetime. So be sure to give fishing a try on your next guest ranch vacation – you’ll be glad you did.
Just be sure that you familiarize yourself with the fishing rules and regulations of the state you’re visiting and that you obtain all necessary licenses before doing so. You don’t want to taint your child’s first fishing trip with an unpleasant encounter with law enforcement.
In the meantime, cruise on over to Outdoor Empire and check out their comprehensive article about taking your kids on their first fishing trip. There, you’ll learn more tips and tricks to make your kids first trip a great one.