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Kayak Fishing With The Kids

One of life's joys is going fishing with a kid, and kayak fishing is no different. Watching a child hook up with a fish and experience the thrill of the fight is one of those moments that parents treasure. I know because my son, Wyatt, loves to come fishing with me on our kayak, and the pleasure is just as much mine as it is his.

There are, of course, some things to consider before venturing out for a day's fishing with a small child in a kayak. But proper equipment and planning will insure a wonderful time on the water for both of you.

What kind of kayak is best for fishing with a child?  I use a Malibu Extreme with a Gator Hatch, which provides a molded in seat for a child up to 70lbs or so directly in front of and facing me. I find this to be a great layout compared to a tandem kayak in which the child would sit up front facing away, at least until the young 'un is big enough to paddle their own (around age 8-10).

Whatever you choose, you want to make sure you both have ample room, are comfortable, and that the child is within reach. Safety-wise, you must both wear PFDs, of course. A kayak

that is designed for a stable ride like a sit-on-top is ideal. Sit inside kayaks do not lend themselves to fishing with a child although it can be done.

When taking a child out on a kayak or canoe planning is vital to make sure the experience is enjoyable whether you catch fish or not. Make sure you have plenty of bug spray, sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, and snacks - particularly the bad ones Mom doesn't let you have (cheesy puffs, beef jerky, and soda keep my fella happy).

Also make sure you have thought out how to go about using nature's facilities. Boys are a bit easier than girls, but knowing there is a handy spot with some hard bottom where someone can go potty is critical. Also take a dry bag with a spare change of clothes and towel in case your little one gets uncomfortably wet (from any reason).

While there is nothing wrong with taking home some nice fish for dinner, make sure your kids are ready for this. While my son thinks we should keep every fish, many children are trained to believe keeping a fish is akin to murder. One father I know had his son break into tears when he put a nice red into the cooler. Teach your child good conservation methods, but don't go overboard (pun intended) and create an emotional trauma. Show kids proper release techniques; but let them know, contrary to PETA's kids' campaign, that fish are FOOD not friends. I remember one day when I released a small red with one hand my son informed me that was no way to release a fish. He then proceeded to show me how to release a red with two hands the way he learned watching fishing shows on TV.

A camera in the kayak goes a long way in helping you to preserve those priceless moments when your kids face lights up with their catch. If you are lucky enough to spend the day baiting and re-rigging your kid's line as he or she keeps reeling in fish you have reached kid fishing nirvana. It's not about you, it's about getting them to enjoy fishing, being out on the water together, and if you're lucky enough catching fish too.

By Mike Kogan, www.jaxkayakfishing.com

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