Fishing with Toddlers

It has finally happened.  The fish are running, your permit is current, and you have all the gear you need.  The big fishing trip you have been waiting months to take is about to happen, and wham.
It’s ruined.  Your babysitter/wife/husband is sick, or has run off with the local rodeo clown on a whirlwind tour of the nation’s IHOP franchises.  Whatever the reason, your dimpled darling(s) are now your problem, and instead of a quiet day on the water, you are about to be surrounded with noisemakers, diapers, and an endless cycle of cartoons.  Instead of giving up, consider bringing your kids along.  They may create new and exciting fish-catching opportunities that you never dreamed of.  Here are some things you can try when fishing with toddlers:


While you’re in the stream, send your young cherub into a rotting log to look for grubs.  Potential benefits to this include both a labor-free supply of bait, and the opportunity for your child to feed himself his own high-protein with toddlers

Beating the Competition

Do you have a frenemy who always catches more fish than you?  Send your kids over to visit them, and be certain to remind them to show him/her the new piercing scream they have been perfecting.

Bear Protection

If you’re fishing in an area which is known for its bear population, follow this simple formula to keep them miles away:  Chili dogs and pears for breakfast, and a very prominent display location for the resulting poopy diapers.

New Lures

Teeny toes dipped over the edge can bring a number of fish to the surface.  The more your kids wiggle them, the more they can interest the fish.  Just have a net handy to scoop up the interested parties.

Free Willy

Do you use live bait?  If your kids are scaring the fish too much, then change your plan.  You can allow them to take your minnows, and one by one, throw them in the river and watch them swim away. (In all seriousness, make sure that this is within the rules– certain locations and fish species are not available to do this).


An iPod and cranky kids are just enough to discover if trout prefer classical music, nature sounds, or the whimsical musings of Raffi.  Of course, you may have better luck with Phish.


If you’re fishing from a boat, you can attach trolling lines to your sleeping kid.  If it pulls on their feet, and they wake up and cry, you know you have a with toddlers

Of course, when fishing with toddlers, if none of this works, the day needn’t be a waste.  Instead, enjoy the day outside together.  It won’t be the first or last time that you return empty-handed from a fishing trip.  Who knows?  You might even be cultivating a lifelong love of fishing in your little one, even if it will be a few more years before fishing with toddlers allows you to catch anything.