Skip to main content



Little Fish with Little kids Equals Big Fun

Two kids fishing in a stream

Competing with your kid’s attention in a world filled with immediate entertainment is a tough job, but the Nevada Department of Wildlife thinks fishing might be your best bet. With a little bit of patience and preparation, taking your kids fishing could be just the thing to get them away from their Nintendo Switch or Xbox.

There’s no quicker way to hook a kid on fishing than putting them in front of hundreds of hungry fish, eager to eat. Where you run into a problem is when there is much more fishing and not so much catching. Keep in mind that a little patience now can earn you a fishing buddy for life. Just remember that fishing with kids may or may not include anything that you recognize as fishing. Expect lots of fun, just don’t expect to be using your own fishing pole right away. In fact, they may not even get much use out of their own fishing poles that first time out.


Basic fishing poles are made to be easy when starting out and the character versions are easy to find. Regardless of what superhero or cartoon character is on the pole, kids seem to do better with shorter poles and push button reels. The closed reel design helps to teach timing without adding stray line and the additional moving parts. If any part of using the reel ends up frustrating, consider taking the reel off entirely and tying line directly to the rod tip. The fishing docks found at many of our community ponds offer excellent fishing directly underneath them, eliminating any need for a cast. A few other important items to remember would include sunglasses, sunblock, water, and don’t forget the snacks.

About the easiest part to fishing for heavily populated panfish is deciding on what to use. Since almost anything will work, start with a small barbless fly or small red hook without any bait. Panfish are typically in close enough to see them eat your lure or bait a few feet off the shore. Try the bare hook and work up from there. There’s really no question if they like your bait or not when you can just about spoon feed it to them. If for some reason that doesn’t work, try adding a small amount of bait to the exposed hook point. Flies can be tipped with any moldable dough bait, salmon egg, corn, cheese, or even bread. Get creative and make a game out of it, just be aware of any special bait regulations if you’re not fishing at one of the community ponds.


Until everyone is self-sufficient, try picking up a few aquarium nets with long handles, they’re a great way of getting kids hooked on fishing even before you get a rod in their hand. Crayfish, tadpoles, and other large insects are often easy to catch with the little nets. Have fun exploring everything at the pond but please leave any of the creatures where you find them. Once everyone learns the basics and how to land their own fish, try adding a few elements to help keep it exciting. A family fishing derby is a great way to spend a hot summer afternoon. It helps to offer bragging rights for the biggest fish, smallest fish, or most fish caught. This would also be a great time to bring out your own fishing pole again.


Plans and precautions only go so far when fishing with kids. It’s impossible to stop every minor injury that comes from biting insects, slippery rocks, sharp sticks, fishing hooks, or fish spines. A small first aid kit is a great addition that can help you care for all those other unexpected minor accidents. You might consider bending down all the barbs on the hooks going into a kids tackle box. It’s impossible to avoid every minor accident, be sure to do everything you can to avoid the major ones. Life jackets are also a good idea in any situation where young kids or weak swimmers are near water.


Nevada’s community ponds are an excellent place to start when looking for healthy populations of panfish. The key to good fishing is heat and knowing where to go. Southern Nevada offers prime panfish conditions during the warmest six months of the year. A few favorites are Lorenzi Park Pond, Sunset Park Pond, and Veterans Park Pond. Western Nevada typically offers excellent fishing from June through August at the Verdi Park Ponds in Reno and Baily Pond in Carson City. Use our new FishNV webtool to find an urban fishery near you.