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Tips for Catching Fish on a Small Lake with Children

Updated on May 20, 2012
Coming back from a mid-morning fishing trip.
Coming back from a mid-morning fishing trip. | Source

If you have gone camping with children chances are they've asked to go fishing. Many small children love to sit with mommy and daddy on the boat or pier and try to catch fish. Although fishing takes patience kids can have fun and actually catch fish even if they have a hard time waiting and sitting still.

If you are not avid campers, but love to fish this hub offers some great tips to fish with children that may not be able to wait patiently with their poles. Whether you take your children out on a boat or simply do off-shore fishing these 5 tips are sure to help you and your children catch more fish.

5 Tips for Catching Fish

Each of these tips are equally important if you wish to not only catch many fish, but decent sized fish as well. I'm sure you can find other secrets out there, but in my personal opinion these are the top 5 best tips for catching freshwater fish on small lakes or ponds.

However the best tool for catching more fish is knowledge. The more you know, the better chance you have at using your knowledge to catch fish.

1. Time of Day: This is important because fish do not eat throughout the day. Most types of fish do most of their eating at dawn and dusk. If you can get out early in the morning or at dusk those are the best times to catch fish. You will have a harder time getting fish to bite in the middle of the afternoon when the lake is hot and the fish are not usually eating.

*Note: Fish love structures and once you find the structures you will have found the fish, which we all know is half the battle. If you follow the structure of the lake or pond you're fishing in you are bound to find more fish than sitting in the middle of the lake.

2. Follow the Structure: This means following the structure of the lake. Whether it be the shore line or other structures within the lake or pond. What are structures? Main lake structures include points, bars, and breaks. Other forms of structures are rock piles, ledges, inside and outside weedlines, among others.

  • Points: Visible land extending into the lake would be a point. For example a pennisula is surrounded by water on three sides, therefore it is a point.
  • Bars: A bar is a shallow pool within a lake surrounded by deeper water on three sides. Bars can be found on the extension of a point. These are important because they tend to hold and attract more fish.
  • Breaks: Also known as drop-offs, breaks are where the depth of the lake or pond changes from 5-10 feet to 15-20 feet. Breaks are important because they serve as travel routes for fish. The steeper the break the more fish you are likely to find.

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Catching night crawlers...not too happy with the way they feel.Catching minnowsCatching minnows....trying rather, nets do not work well for speedy minnows.
Catching night crawlers...not too happy with the way they feel.
Catching night crawlers...not too happy with the way they feel. | Source
Catching minnows
Catching minnows | Source
Catching minnows....trying rather, nets do not work well for speedy minnows.
Catching minnows....trying rather, nets do not work well for speedy minnows. | Source

3. Bait: When possible, live bait is the best possible bait. For small lakes and ponds that are fished often it is almost crucial to use live bait to stay one step ahead of the other fishers.

From conventional live bait such as night crawlers, crickets, grasshoppers, frogs, crayfish (crawdads), minnows, mealworms, and waxworms to unconventional bait such as bread, hot dogs, and cooked potatoes you are sure to catch more fish than if you were to simply use a spinner bait or rubber worm. Bait found in or around the lake or pond you are fishing is the best bait.

The great thing about using live bait is that you and the kids can collect it together. You don't have to worry about paying for most live baits if you have the opportunity to catch it yourself.

Personal Experience:

  • One of my favorite memories is going out the night or two before fishing and spraying the yard with water and going out and catching all the nightcrawlers that come up to feed. We kept them in a large bucket with dirt and newspaper to keep them alive and then we would take the bucket and our fresh worms out fishing.
  • You can also take nets and go cricket and grasshopper hunting. The kids love to use minnow traps and run down to the docks to see how many new ones they catch each day. The trick with minnows is to not catch too many at a time, because over crowding can cause the minnows to die.

Below is a table showing the different types of bait people use and the types of fish they are most likely to attract.

Best Bait for Fishing

Type of Fish
Conventional Bait
Unconventinoal Bait
Night Crawlers, Crayfish, Minnow
Hotdogs (They really work!)
Crickets, Grasshoppers (anything small, they have small mouths)
Mealworms, Crawdads, Grasshoppes
Cooked Potatoes (Believe it or not)
Night Crawlers, mealworms
Minnows, Night Crawlers, and Crayfish
Minnows and Crickets
Night Crawlers, Waxworms, Minnows, and Crickets
These fish will eat pretty much anything, however you will have a better chance catching fish with their favorite bait.

How do you bait your hook?

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4. Presentation: Not only is the type of bait important but how you present the bait to the fish is just as equally important. Most fish will not eat a worm that is not moving, or a minnow that looks dead. However, you can hook your bait to make the appearance of life in your bait.

  • Hook minnows upside down; they will try to swim and upright themselves causing other fish to come and eat them.
  • Hook worms in multiple places to keep them on the hook and stop fish from nibbling your bait off. Hooking the nightcrawlers in multiple places will cover the hook completely and allow fish to be hooked rather than nibble and swim away.
  • Use multiple waxworms or hook them so they completely cover the hook.

Live bait that swims and hooks has better appeal to fish and gives you a better chance at catching fish.

*Note: Not all freshwater ponds and lake allow live bait fishing so it's important to make sure that you are allowed to use live bait before you headout to the lake.

Heading out to hopefully catch some fish.
Heading out to hopefully catch some fish. | Source

5. Use a boat, when possible: Boats allow better access to different structures that certain types of fish may be using for hiding and traveling. Even a small paddle boat is better than off shore fishing. With different angles you can use for casting you can create better chances for catching fish when in a boat rather than from the shore.

Whether you are an avid fisherman or are just starting out because your kids want to fish, these tips are sure to bring you better luck and more fish to your fishing outings. Children will love going out to hunt for bait the night or day before just as much as the actually fishing trip. Make a weekend out of the fishing trip and make a memorable nature event the kids will never forget.


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    • Shesabutterfly profile image

      Cholee Clay 5 years ago from Wisconsin

      alissaroberts-Hope the hot dogs work as well for you as they do for me. The hotdogs work especially well for minnows and turtles too. Not that most of us are looking to catch turtles.

    • alissaroberts profile image

      Alissa Roberts 5 years ago from Normandy, TN

      Great fishing tips! We live 5 minutes away from the lake and take our boys fishing often. There is nothing worse than when those fish are not biting! Funny you mentioned hotdogs as unconventional bait because my husband just brought home 6 leftover packages of hotdogs from a school field trip. We will have to test that bait out soon. Thanks for sharing your tips!