Fishing Articles

Making Family Fishing Fun

Sharing time on the water with your family or non-fishing friends can be a recipe for disaster. NZ Fishing News’ managing editor Grant Dixon looks at a few ways to make for a fun time…

There are a few simple rules to follow to make a day’s fishing an enjoyable experience for all.

The first thing to remember is that not everyone shares your passion for fishing or will have your skills.

With kids especially, that 20 pound snapper goal you have set yourself will not be shared by the younger crew members. They only want to feel the thrill of a fish pulling on the end of their line, so lower your sights.

To them, a catch is a catch, it’s eating qualities are secondary. To this end the ‘people’s fish’, the humble kahawai, is a great target species. They are relatively abundant, are spectacular fighters and make great fishcakes, raw fish and smoke up well.

Imagine junior coming home with a nice brace of kahawai, help you prepare it for the smoker, then proudly watch as the family tuck into it at the dinner table.

Make the day your guest’s day. That may mean that you might not fish yourself. Your job is to make the experience as easy as possible. You will be the bait boy, the fish de-hooker and the one who sorts out any tangles. Give the new crew a safety briefing, explaining where the flares, fire extinguishers and lifejackets are and invite them to put on the latter.

Keep the fishing techniques as simple as possible. To this end fishing with sabiki or ledger rigs , tied with circle hooks, is a good terminal tackle option. The fish will hook themselves, normally in the corner of the mouth, making them easy to handle boat side.

If you have several people on board all using similar rigs, make sure the sinker weights are all the same to help reduce the possibility of tangles.

Regarding fishing tackle, I have a second set of gear I take out for the use of novice anglers. As the skipper, seeing an inexperience guest tip load that $1000 soft-bait set will do nothing for your sense of humour and your angst will be conveyed to the angler.

Spend a bit of time with each angler explaining how the gear works and what to do when they hook a fish. Simple techniques such as getting the angler to leave the fish in the water and net it rather than use the rod as a crane to lift the fish into the boat will help with your blood pressure.

One of the biggest fears for non-anglers getting on a boat is motion sickness. Pick your day to invite young or novice anglers out. They will have enough on their minds learning new skills without the further concern of staying on their feet on a pitching deck.

Be mindful of the weather forecast. What might be a calm morning that tempts you to head out over the horizon might turn into a nightmare ride home when the wind and tide oppose each other.

Kids have a short attention span and if the fishing is slow, will lose interest quickly. Let them bring along a book or a device they can use in the cabin. Having plenty of food and drink on board will also help.

New anglers what ever their age will be inquisitive as to how this, that and the other thing work on the boat. Explain to them why you need a drogue when drift fishing, how the sounder works and what the trim tabs do. Let the kids drive for a short spell under your close supervision and in a suitable location away from other vessels and hazards.

And the most important rule – never yell!