Safe and fun family fishing

Summer is here and the living is easy.

During our summer months, many area residents take time to enjoy a family fishing outing.

If it’s a youngster’s first fishing trip, experts have some words of advice – just have fun.

The rewards for a successful trip easily outweigh the risk of failure, said experts at Hooked on Fishing International of Ketchum, Okla.

Seeing a little angler have a good time, maybe even catch a fish, is a significant reward, to be sure. But, the real reward for parents is knowing that a successful trip could become the spark that fires a lifetime of fishing.

Fishing is more than a sport. It is the back-to-nature platform that teaches respect for land and water.

To increase the chances for a successful and safe first-time outing, experts offer the following tips:

– Use live bait to increase the chances of catching a fish. While catching a fish does not make the difference between a fun or lousy time, the thrill of feeling a fish on the line will just about guarantee that a little angler will want to come back for more. For safety’s sake, the grownups should handle putting the worms and minnows on sharp hooks. Incidentally, records indicate that worms and minnows catch 80 percent of the fish at American fishing derbies.

– Bring lots of snacks. Keep wet wipes on hand for use before and after snacks.

– Give the child his own fishing outfit, a gesture that will make the day even more memorable for the adults and child. There is a practical aspect to this, too. For short anglers, short rods are easier to handle.

– Bring a camera and shoot lots of pictures. This day will live in the memory for a long time but the details will come flooding back, even a generation later, when you haul out the family photo album, or visit the family Facebook page. Better yet, send them to for our Outdoors page.

– Don’t drive too far. The object is to minimize the times back seat auto passengers ask the front seat, “Are we there yet?”

– Don’t fish too long. Leave a little fishing desire in the bank for the next fishing trip.

– Remember, have fun and keep it simple.

– Establish rules. No running. Keep your shoes on, and look around before you cast.

– Set up a buddy system. The youngest anglers need an adult buddy and constant supervision.

– Make sure each angler, swimmers and non-swimmers alike, wears a personal flotation device at all times – on the boat, on the dock, or on the shore.

– Bring a long-handled fish net, not just for netting fish, but in case you need to reach out to someone in the water. It will also retrieve trash or valuables from the water.

– First Aid Kit. You should have a kit with medical supplies to deal with all manner of cuts and scrapes, bruises and bumps, bites and boo-boos. You’re likely to be some distance away from professional medical assistance so remember, in the meantime, you’re the “doctor.”

– Cold drink breaks. Summer temperatures can get pretty warm, so bring lots of cool water and other healthy drinks and make sure the young anglers drink fluids often to prevent dehydration or even heat stroke.

– Sunscreen. The ultraviolet (UV) light of the sun can do a lot of damage to skin, eyes and lips. Outfit young anglers with proper sunglasses, a billed cap, and clothing appropriate to the climate and sun conditions. Avoid fishing in the middle of the day. Cover face, neck, ears, the back of hands and all exposed skin with sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher. Apply chap protection wax on lips.

– Insect repellent. Mosquitoes, ticks, bees and other insects not only sting, they can carry diseases of one kind or another. Apply insect repellent. Follow the directions on the container. If your insect repellent contains Deet, it may be better to apply it to the clothing instead of the skin.

– Safety comes first. All the checklists in the world can’t anticipate all of the safety problems you or your young anglers might encounter on a fishing trip. So the best advice is think safety at all times. Look for trouble before it finds you. If it finds you anyway, know how to deal with it.

Additionally, the Boat Owner’s Association of the United States offers the following tips for a safe outing:

– Before you go: Check charts and navigation lights, and top off the tank.

– While you’re out: Watch electricity consumption, be aware of alcohol intake.

– Coming home after the show: Don’t rush home, post a lookout with a spotlight.

– Trailer boater tips: Check tires and bearings before you go; periodically stop and inspect trailer, and have a spare.