Keeping Your Family Safe on Fishing Trips

There are few more memorable occasions in life than first family vacations, no matter what you do, or where you go. More families are deciding to choose activity style breaks these days, rather than opting for beach holidays. Fishing trips are becoming an increasingly popular way of spending time with your loved ones to bond and learn (or remember and teach) lots of new skills.

If you’re new to fishing, or simply want to pass on your knowledge and skills to your kids, here’s a go-to guide on everything you need to know about keeping your family safe on a first fishing trip.

Prepare Properly

It’s worth keeping in mind that you really don’t need to spend a fortune to have a memorable time but you do need to make sure you’ve got a solid plan in place to make the trip go with a swing – you might discover that your kids develop a lifelong passion for angling, and so you’ll want to start them on the right foot.

Before you go – make a checklist. Will you have a big enough tent? What do you need in terms of rods and reels? (We’ll cover this a little further on, so don’t worry). Do you have enough firewood, or can you get access to plenty? What extra seating do you need?

Consider all these points beforehand, even right down to the things you’ll need to take with you in your tent, like sleeping mats and a decent camping stove.

It really pays to make sure you’ve got a sensible first aid kit in place too, with appropriate bandages, plasters and alcohol wipes for sterilisation, alongside pain relief too.

Before you set off

This might be your first outdoor vacation as a family, and preparation is always key, keep talking to your children about what you’ll be doing, where you’ll be going and some simple safety issues.

Talk about camp fire safety, discuss staying safe around open waterways and always remind your children to stay close to you at all times especially when you’re camping, in a boat or by the riverside.

Remind them if they feel frightened or find themselves in danger that they can call for help. If you feel safer, issue them with a personal alarm that makes them easier to be found if they are in trouble.

On the trip – keep it simple

Experienced anglers will know exactly what tackle they need, and how perfectly it needs to be prepped in order to successfully share their catch. For children, this isn’t such a great idea, and it’s always best (and safest) to keep it simple. Don’t think about complicated systems for baitcasting or different gauges of rods. Choose easy to hold and handle cane poles and simple spinning reels, so that the children can get a feel for fishing, without being bombarded with lots of different techniques.

One first trick to try is to get the kids fishing with live bait and a bobber. Don’t attempt lures. These are likely to get stuck or snagged at the bottom of the river bed, which can cause additional danger to inexperienced little hands. Children are also more likely to be able to understand and get pleasure from seeing their float in the moving water, too. It requires less skill, but will still produce great results.

When you arrive at your fishing destination…

Try and set up camp first, before you dive in. It’s tempting to want to get to the riverside, or off in your boat straight away, but it’s much better to make sure your tent is pitched and everything is set up appropriately first.

If you wait until it’s too late and you’ve done a day’s fishing, it’ll be too dark and you’ll all be too tired. Make sure everyone pitches in, has a task to complete and you can still get to the water in plenty time to cast off!

Fun for all the family?

Although you’re planning the trip and hoping everyone will enjoy it, there might be times when there are tears, tantrums, and other mishaps. If that’s the case, don’t despair – remember, setbacks happen and it doesn’t mean you’ve turned your children into angling-phobics!

Make sure to plan a few other different activities that will provide a welcome break from the main focus of the vacation. Whilst many of us go fishing and camping to get away from the daily grind of modern living and want to avoid technology at all costs – remember that having a phone or tablet charged and handy can not only be a handy safety device, but something that can provide a brief alternative form of entertainment.

If you’re all having a lot of fun camping and fishing, make it all the better by exploring more of the nature that surrounds you – going on walks and trails and learning to spot birds and insects.

Final checklist:

Try to pick a wide-open location, without a lot of trees, rocks or weeds. This will make it easier for youngsters to cast off without injury or difficulty.

Avoid crowded locations and as it’s the first trip, try and keep a respectful and quiet distance from other more experienced anglers.
Children do have shorter attention spans and angling does require patience. If they don’t catch fish straight away they may become bored, which is why it is better to keep your rig up simple. Try and target easy to catch fish and opt for locations which you know will be easy to snare a catch.

One final safety tip is to make sure there is easy access to a bathroom at all times and that you keep water and snacks with you at all times to make sure you all stay hydrated. Choose easy to pack and store refreshments that don’t take up much space and are easy to bring from home. For a safe first trip look at small ponds as an option, with facilities nearby which provide easy opportunities to make catches.