[Trout fishing at Potato Lake. Photo: Al_HikesAZ] Fishing is one of the best ways to introduce your kids to the natural world and most – even those who’ve never fished before – end up loving the sport. And fortunately for residents of the Centennial State, Colorado offers some of the best fishing opportunities in the country.
But because kids rarely find it fun to stare at a bobber all day long, you’ll need to help your kids catch fish if you want them to enjoy their day to the fullest extent possible. With this in mind, try to embrace the following seven tips and tricks:
1. Use Simple Equipment
Don’t sabotage your kid’s efforts by handing them a rod and reel too complicated for them to use easily. Spincasting combos are ideal, but most kids can handle a spinning combo if necessary. Cane poles are always an option too, and their simplicity is especially attractive for those fishing with very young children.
2. Target Easy-to-Catch Species
Colorado is home to about 35 different freshwater fish, but some are easier to catch than others. Your kids will have the best chance of catching aggressive fish, who aren’t as wary as largemouth bass, brown trout and other celebrated gamefish are.
Panfish and catfish are some of the best targets for young anglers, and they are common in most of the warm waters in the state. If you must fish in cooler waters, look for places that have large mountain whitefish populations or those stocked with farmed rainbow trout.
3. Pick Productive Baits
Advanced anglers often prefer to use artificial lures, but real baits will almost always be more productive for young anglers. Crickets, nightcrawlers, red wigglers, leeches, wax worms and mealworms are all effective for catching panfish, trout or catfish, and they’ll occasionally draw nibbles from other species too.
4. Choose Good Fishing Locations
Fish do not distribute themselves evenly in the waters in which they live; instead, they tend to cluster in several relatively small areas. Look for areas near docks, submerged trees or rocks, as these types of cover often attract fish. Long points that extend out from the shoreline are also productive locations in most lakes and ponds.
Chatfield Reservoir is a great location for those in the northern portion of the state, while the Pueblo Reservoir offers excellent fishing for those in the southern half of the state. Green Mountain Reservoir is a great choice for those living in the western reaches of the state.
5. Stay on the Right Side of the Law
Always be sure you have a fishing license before taking your kids out on the water, so you can avoid setting a bad example and possibly receiving a citation. But while you need a license, your kids probably don’t: Children under 16 years of age don’t need one to fish in Colorado.
6. Keep the Kids Comfortable
Comfortable kids will catch more fish (and cause fewer headaches for their parents) than cranky kids will, so be sure to dress your kids for the weather and use plenty of sunscreen and bug spray. It is also a good idea to fish during the early morning or late evening (assuming you are fishing during the summer), when temperatures are mild and the fish are most active.
7. Fish Alongside Your Kids
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that you’re more likely to hook fish than your kids are. So, to help ensure they have a good time and get to forge a few memories, be ready to hand your rod over, when you get a fish on the end of your line. This way, they get to enjoy the best part of fishing and feel like they’ve accomplished something.
Above all else, try to make sure that your kids’ first day on the water is fun – even if you don’t manage to catch anything. If you do, you’re likely to foster a lifelong love of the sport and an appreciation for the great outdoors.
If you’d like to learn more about teaching your kids to fish, including further recommendations about the best equipment to use and places to go, check out Outdoor Empire’s comprehensive review of the subject.