Taking Kids Fishing - 3 Safety Tips for Fishing with Kids
Fishing with kids is an exciting and rewarding experience. Our three safety tips will ensure that you get the kids hooked on fishing and avoid getting a hook in the kids!
Make sure you have the right safety equipment and procedures
The most important safety consideration for having kids on board is ensuring that your boat is equipped with the correct lifejackets for them. While your boat is likely already equipped with lifejackets (and if it isn’t, it definitely should be), kids need smaller lifejackets that are specifically designed and sized for them.
Even children as young as infants are catered for with specific lifejackets, such as this one for infants:
Toddlers and young children have their own specific lifejacket sizes as well, such as these two:
Note the crotch strap for added safety on both examples, plus the clips linking the straps together and the substantial head support.
Just like adult lifejackets, children’s lifejackets are rated according to different weight ranges, so you’ll need to ensure that your lifejackets are not only of the correct specification but also rated for the weight of the children you’ll have on your boat.
Obviously, hats and sunblock are really important, too! Nothing like sunburn to ruin a perfectly fun day out fishing with kids. Reapply sunblock every few hours and make sure hats stay on.
Familiarise yourself with the man overboard procedure on your chart plotter. Most modern systems will immediately save a waypoint on the spot, allowing you to easily navigate the boat back to that location.
If you’re not familiar with how that feature works on your boat, consult your device’s user manual and even practice it once to ensure you are comfortable with its use. Accidents can happen, and we want you to be prepared.
Safety on deck
Fishing with kids is a rewarding and exciting experience. Adopting these safety practices on deck will ensure that a day out fishing with the kids is fun and without any unwanted surprises:
At the risk of stating the obvious, children need constant supervision when out fishing.
Parents or responsible adults should be extra vigilant when children are aboard, particularly during hazardous transits (such as through inlets or during difficult sea conditions) and when direct water access doors such as side or transom doors are open.
Movement around the boat is also a safety issue. Children should be taught not to climb or walk around on the gunwales and especially not to hang limbs over the sides whilst the boat is underway.
Tackling fishing hazards
Supervision needs to be dialed up to eleven when the fishing tackle box or drawers, with all their hooks, lures and knives, are opened. Keep children away from these containers when they’re open, and when the equipment is not needed, consider closing it up or stowing it away for the safest option.
Of course, when it’s time to cast a rod, extra care should be taken that the casting area is clear of children. This is where many accidents happen and so being sure of the movement of your bait as you prepare to cast, is vital.
Landing a big catch
There’s always great excitement all around when fishing with kids and a fish takes one of their baits. Feel free to render whatever assistance is required to land the child’s big catch, and please enjoy some great family photos before deciding what to do with the fish.
Be aware that occasionally, fish can be dangerous once onboard, especially species with sharp teeth or spines.
Children’s natural curiosity will have them crowding around to see, poke at or play with the fish, but rather keep children a safe distance away from it while an adult removes the hook and safely handles the fish for a memorable photo and/or teaching opportunity!
Safety at the dock or boat ramp
When fishing with kids, both docking and recovering your boat are two of the riskiest moments that skippers and the responsible adults on board need to be extra cautious of:
Docking and anchoring
When docking or anchoring, keep children away from the sides of the boat to prevent crush injuries.
Recovery at the boat ramp
The boat ramp presents a whole new set of challenges when fishing with children. Children should be kept safely on board the boat until it is tied up at the dock, ready for putting on the trailer.
Once everything has come to a stop, have an adult disembark onto the dock first to assist the children off the boat. If the children are very young or there are several, you may want to have more than one adult ready on the dock to keep the kids safe so that there is no risk of an accident.
Boat ramps are often very busy places. It’s noisy, there are boats, vehicles and trailers moving about, and many people heading in different directions. Keep the kids close by as you safely navigate across the parking areas. For more information on docking read this blog!
Finally, when retrieving your boat, it is critical that the driver needs to know where all of the children are, prior to beginning the operation. Accidents can happen here very fast since the driver’s focus is naturally on getting the trailer down the ramp successfully. If you can’t get the kids into the car before this procedure is done, consider assigning a couple of adults to watch the kids and ensure that they’re kept at a safe distance while the boat is recovered.