Teach your child safety procedures such as lowering the rod and keeping it below the waist. It's important to wash up after handling fish, too, so keep a supply of moist towelettes or hand sanitizer in your tackle box.
If it's possible, clean the fish once you arrive at home. This way your child will not be left unsupervised near the water and you'll be able to focus more on what you're doing. Though they won't be ready to do this task themselves, you can begin teaching children how to clean fish and the right way to dispense of the remains.
"There are too many 'fishermen' that just throw the remains anywhere but are not preoccupied with the environment side of the sport," says Claude. "Some docks are littered with empty worm containers, lids, and other garbage. What example are they giving their children?"
Additionally, all states and provinces have their own regulations, and you should know them before you go out for an adventure. Make sure you find out about the quantity of fish allowed for one day, which types you can or can't fish, and whether you and your child need a fishing license.
Making It Fun
There are a variety of books and posters available on the subject of fish. Spend some time looking at these with your child—he or she will begin to identify easily recognizable fish. Talk about the differences between fresh water fish and salt water fish. These are useful tools when you teach "catch and release"—when the caught fish is quickly set back into the water.
The important points to remember are to have fun, enjoy the outdoors, be safe, and be patient. Take pictures of your child with his or her prize catch. Make a big deal out of it! As your child's attention span gets longer, so will you fishing trips, and you'll be making memories your child—and you—will cherish for a lifetime.