Fishing with kids in the winter

Getting kids outdoors during the winter months is a challenge in itself. Add cold water and a bitter wind and it can be a recipe for disaster. But kids can thrive outdoors any time of the year with some careful planning and light entertainment. The fish always provide entertainment, but let me share some tips we have found to prolong the hours our kids are agreeable to fishing during the winter.

Watch the weather

When fishing with kids in the winter, it’s important to choose your day wisely (the sunnier the day, the better). However, clouds can roll in at a moment’s notice, and if you are not prepared for rain, you’d better head for the car. Also, windy days make it harder for kids to cast and can make the temperature feel lower than it actually is.

Time of day

Start around lunchtime and be prepared to leave earlier than you might want. Most fish become active as the water is heated by the sun, so fishing around lunchtime or after could help ensure more action.

Hand warmers are a must

Kids tolerate the cold worse than most adults, so we pack rechargeable hand warmers and stuff them in pockets when not in use. Even if it doesn’t feel cold when you start fishing, if your hands get wet handling fish, you will appreciate the warmth.

Keep skin dry

This tip is twofold. We always ensure our kids are wearing their waterproof muck boots when fishing streams in the winter because rain can pop up even if you are prepared. Also, if my kids are around water for more than a minute, something on them will be wet. Waterproof boots buy them at least 30 minutes before I hear, “Moooommm, my foot is wet.”

Hand protection

First, take more mittens than you think you will need. If they aren’t lost somewhere in the car on the drive to the water, then they will get wet handling fish. A towel is also nice to bring in order to dry your hands after stripping a fly line or to dry off after handling a fish.

Warm snacks

I’ve heard it said that you burn more calories trying to keep warm in the winter than any other time of year. A thermos of hot chocolate goes a long way on a winter day spent fishing. I have also heard of packing soup or even pancakes in a thermos to enjoy when warming up during a fishing trip.

Safety during the winter

Young children are more susceptible to hypothermia than adults. It’s a good idea to know the signs of hypothermia in children prior to leaving for your fishing trip. The two most common ways to develop hypothermia are not dressing properly for the cold and walking on a partially frozen body of water. We only see snow a couple of times each year in the South, so when there is ice on the stream, it’s important to educate your kids that it is not safe to walk on it.

Fishing can be fun and entertaining any time of the year. In winter, it’s important to approach fishing with preparedness, especially when fishing with kids. Follow the tips above for an enjoyable winter fishing trip with your kids.