Most anglers can remember their first fish and early forays into fishing. These are often their fondest childhood memories.

Angling offers young people the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature, the excitement of the chase and the satisfaction of success when they catch one.

The great outdoors is a fantastic classroom. It teaches observation, patience, preparedness, risk management, as well as the need to continually adjust to changing conditions.  

Research proves that there is a strong relationship between outdoor recreation and physical and mental well-being. Fishing also connects an angler with their food, and trout is a healthy and sustainable meal.

Introducing young people to fishing will expose them to these benefits, as well as establishing an intergenerational activity to do together and it might instil a lifelong hobby.


Taking Kids Fishing

The best piece of over-arching advice here is try and make each trip enjoyable.  There are lots of aspects of a fishing trip to enjoy – the scenery and place you are, the people you are with, the food you eat and share, the exercise and new experiences, the fishing and of course, the catching. Focus on the holistic experience as that’s what kids do. Often, adults only deem a trip enjoyable if it was ‘successful’.

If you are fortunate to hook a fish, you want to ensure you give yourself the best chance of landing it. When the fish is ready to be netted, have the junior angler hold their rod up and simply walk backwards while someone else nets or grabs it in the shallows. This will avoid the rod being ‘point loaded’ which can break the tip. This often happens with younger or inexperienced anglers.

Here are more tips for Taking Kids Fishing and for letting the kids see where their food comes from 

Improving your Odds

It’s generally accepted that kids have a short attention span - so it’s important to try and maximise the likelihood of catching something on your trip.

Southland Fish & Game staff have made videos specifically on fishing in Southland to upskill our anglers. If you are wanting guidance or direction, then follow the advice on these videos.  

Tackle Recommendations

Avoid the novelty, ‘mickey mouse’ style combos that are aimed at kids – these are more the brainchild of the marketing department, than an angler. They likely won’t cast very far, are not built to last and kids will soon grow out of them. You are better to get them something that will serve them well and that they will ‘grow into’. Parents do that with clothes, shoes, wetsuits and bikes etc. So it makes sense to do it with fishing gear too.

A 2-piece rod that is 1.8m to 2.1m (6-7 feet) long and a reel spooled with 8lb monofilament line (not braid) is a great all round set up. It will enable them to cast a reasonable distance, they will be able to cast a range of weights and it allow them to fish with bait, soft-baits, and lures.

We encourage you to set your budget, and then shop around for a deal on a combo that matches the specifications above.

Junior-Only Fisheries in Southland

There is one Junior-Only Fishery in Southland - McGregor Pond.  This is a Put & Take Fishery, meaning that it is stocked for young anglers and they are encouraged to harvest the fish from it.  Every Labour Weekend the Cruise Milford ‘Take a Kid Fishing competition happens and Fish & Game staff release either Chinook Salmon or Rainbow Trout in the lead up to the event.

With the exception of a short period before Labour Weekend, McGregor Pond is open all year round. There is plenty of space, concrete picnic tables and a walking track around the entire pond. This area is being continually improved as a family friendly space.

To get to McGregor Pond, turn into McGregor Concrete near the bridge over the Whitestone River from SH94 Te Anau Mossburn Highway, then follow the Fish & Game signage. It is located here

Rhys Bennett (7) with his first DIY fish - cast, hooked, played & landed all by himself. A very proud moment and a memory that will last a lifetime. Lake Monowai, Southland.