If you haven’t taken the family fishing yet because you haven’t purchased a license, this is the perfect time to try it out. Free fishing days allow you to go fishing for free, which parents could use to determine whether their kids even want to learn how to fish.
Each year during National Fishing and Boating Week, all states except Alaska offers at least one free fishing day. Take Me Fishing has a link to every state’s free days.
It’s such an easy way to slow down and be present with your kids. When you’re fishing, you’re not on your cellphone checking texts. There are no toys or technology for kids to be distracted by. It’s quiet, family-focused, special time.
Free Fishing Days
- June 7-9
District of Columbia
- June 1-2
- June 8-9
- May 11-12: Mothers who are residents of Minnesota can fish without a license.
- June 7-9: Minnesota residents 16 and older who take a child 15 or younger fishing don’t need a license.
- Fishing in state parks is always free for Minnesota residents in these conditions: when the body of water doesn’t require a trout stamp; fishing from shore or wading in water within the state park; fishing through ice, from a boat or a float on a designated lake that is completely encompassed within a Minnesota state park.
- June 8
- May 4-5 (freshwater)
- June 8
- June 8-9
Tips for Fishing Day
If you’ve taken the kids fishing before, I’m sure you have a list as long as your arm with tips for newbies. (I’m counting on your to add to this list, so please comment with your best ideas.)
1. Build excitement about going fishing. Start by making this adorable Fish Bento lunch and telling your kids that you have a super fun outing planned soon.
2. Talk about what going fishing means and why people have always used fishing as a way to feed themselves.
3. Visit TakeMeFishing.org where you can find places to fish and boat near you. Use their interactive map to learn about the fish species you can expect to see and make it fun for your kids to learn more about them.
4. Take family walks along lakes and rivers to help them get used to the area. If they see minnows scurrying around on the water’s edge, even better!
5. Have a conversation with your children about what they’ll see when they fish. It could be scary the first time they see a worm going on a hook, or a hook removed from a fish’s mouth.
6. Use equipment made for kids. A push-button reel is probably best for them to prevent tangles and they’ll, of course, need a child-sized flotation device.
7. If you’re an inexperienced angler, watch YouTube videos to learn how to tie a knot, use a rod correctly, and cast safely. In some cities, your local Park & Rec office may offer short classes.
Don’t forget a First Aid Kit, and if you can, learn to identify various bug bites so that you’ll know what to do if a creepy-crawly nibbles on your little one. In case you need it, you can make a great ice pack using Dawn Dish Soap.
Fill an extra bag with sunscreen, sanitizing hand wipes, toilet paper and an extra set of clothes.
What else should families know before their first fishing trip?
I think my biggest tip of all is to try and locate free fishing equipment. It wouldn’t make a lot of sense to spend a bundle on fishing rods if the kids really don’t like going, right?
Check thrift stores or put out a call to all your friends to see if they have some things you could borrow for the day. Any other ideas about where to find free or low-cost fishing equipment?