Whether you are a year-round resident or simply a visitor to the Washington D.C./Maryland/Virginia metropolitan area, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy on a weekend. Teaching your kids to fish is a great option and it’ll help ensure they get the chance to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. Besides, fishing is a fantastic hobby that is also great for your family’s health.
But you don’t want to rush right out the door and head down to the closest fishing hole. You’ll need to learn a few tips and tricks to help ensure your kids have a good time and the likelihood to catch a few fish. Start by embracing the following four tips:
Set your kids up with equipment befitting their age and size.
It is imperative that you provide your kids with size- and age-appropriate rods and reels, which they’ll be able to control and operate effectively. Handing them some of your old equipment will likely result in tangled lines, snagged lures and frustrated kids. A 5- to 6-foot-long spinning or spincasting combo is a good choice for most kids, and even those as young as 5 or 6 should be able to wield such a rod capably.
Select a kid-friendly fishing spot.
There are scads of great fishing locations in the D.C. metro area that are open to the public, but you’ll want to look for a place that is well-suited for kids. This essentially means picking a low-traffic location with plenty of room for your kids to learn how to cast. Also, because kids often have inconveniently tiny bladders, pick a place with a bathroom nearby. Additionally, while the Chesapeake Bay is certainly an angler’s paradise for those with a bit of experience, your kids will have better luck at one of the smaller ponds or rivers in the region.
Use real baits rather than artificial lures.
Artificial lures are the go-to choice for professional anglers and experienced amateurs, but they’ll only cause problems for most kids. Not only do these types of lures require quite a bit of skill, finesse and technique to use, they’ll undoubtedly become snagged on underwater hazards, forcing you to cut the line and start anew. Instead, you’ll want to use real baits, such as earthworms, crickets or leeches. You can also use things like corn kernels or dough balls if your kids are more comfortable with these types of things. Just tie a float or sinker (depending on whether you want to fish high or low in the water) about one foot above the bait, to keep it at eye-level for your target species (generally, catfish and bluegill are the best targets for kids).
Fish alongside your kids.
The most effective way to ensure your kids have a good time fishing is to make sure they get the chance to reel in a fish. After all, that’s the most exciting part of fishing! Because you’re more likely to get nibbles and successfully set the hook, keep your own line in the water. When you get a fish hooked, pass the rod to one of your youngsters so that he or she can battle the beast to shore and enjoy all of the glory. Make sure you take plenty of photos to show off their catch to friends and family later.
It would be a shame to ruin an otherwise-perfect day of fishing by getting a ticket from a local law-enforcement officer.
Don’t forget to obtain a valid fishing license before hitting the water. The fishing laws in the region vary, so be sure you consult the rules and regulations for Maryland, Virginia or D.C., depending on where you intend on fishing. You’ll need a license to fish most of the local waters, but children under 16 are often allowed to fish for free.
If you’d like to learn more tips and tricks for making the most of your kids’ first fishing trip, check out Outdoor Empire‘s comprehensive review of the subject. You’ll learn more about picking a great fishing location, and setting your kids up with the best equipment, tackle and techniques to improve their fishing success.
Fishing Holes in the DMV
1900 Anacostia Drive, SE
Washington, D.C. 20020
The Boathouse at Fletcher’s Cove
4940 Canal Road, NW Washington, D.C. 20007
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, D.C. 56901
Rock Creek Park Nature Center
5200 Glover Road, NW
Washington, D.C. 20015
** Fishing is not allowed in Rock Creek or its tributaries north of the Porter Street bridge in Rock Creek.
The Chesapeake Bay Program
410 Severn Avenue, Suite 112
Annapolis, MD 21403
Lake Artemesia Natural Area
Berwyn Road and 55th Avenues
Berwyn Heights, MD 20740
Black Hill Regional Park
20920 Lake Ridge Drive
Boyds, MD 20841
15700 Needwood Lake Circle
Rockville, MD 20855
Burke Lake Park
7315 Ox Road
Fairfax Station, VA 22039
17501 Franklin Park Dr.
Purcellville, VA 20132
Huntley Meadows Park
3701 Lockheed Blvd.
Alexandria, VA 22306
8700 Potomac Hills Street
Great Falls, Virginia