Practice on the pier with kids
  |  First Published: October 2016

Fishing with kids is a lot of fun no matter where you go or what you fish for, but with children having on average the attention span of 30 minutes to an hour, boredom can set in quite quick if there is a lack of fish and not much happening.

The end result is simple; your kids will lose interest because of the lack of action or become upset from being told off by parents if they begin mucking around.

While there is no point turning a fun family activity into difficult task, the best and most rewarding part is to let them be involved and have them bait up, rig lines and assist in setting the berley trail.


Fishing with kids isn’t about saying “We’re going fishing tomorrow,” or “Do you want to come fishing tomorrow?” It’s about getting them involved. The question should be “Do you want to go fishing tomorrow?” and then when they reply with a “Yes”, ask them where they think you should go and have a discussion on the likely locations where you’ll catch a fish.

Most kids, especially those under the age of 10, are keen just to catch something. They don’t usually have the aspiration to catch a 10kg snapper or 50cm King George whiting, so don’t be too keen on pursuing such challenging species. Not just yet anyway. Getting them involved is the first part, and once they have the passion, they’ll seek out the more challenging species as time progresses.

Having kids involved in the entire process keeps them interested. Looking at Google Earth together to decide on a location, looking at willyweather.com to check the weather and tides is all exciting to them, and because they are part of the decision-making process, they are more likely to stick to fishing rather than get bored.

Keep in mind though, taking kids fishing is all about them. Trying to fish effectively yourself is not always going to happen, as your child might need a new bait or their line cast if they do not know how. However, what we can do is to offer encouragement and teach them how to do it for themselves, so that the more times you go, the less they will ask you for help.


Boredom is the root of all evil and before long if it is all quiet on the fishing front, things can go from bad to worse if your child is losing interest quickly.

The biggest problem with pier fishing is the lack of fish to keep kids interested and their mind focused on the job.

Casting out a bunch of baits and then sitting back waiting for a bite can see a shift in interest very quickly.

To avoid this from becoming an issue, you can bring the fish to you, and the most effective technique in doing so is too use berley.

On arrival, it is always good practise to set a berley trail. In doing this, once you have fully rigged your rods and are ready to cast out, there will be fish in your berley trail giving you instant action.

There are numerous ways to use berley, but which ever way you do choose to set a trail, it must be consistent. Should the berley trail be broken, the fish could swim off. A good technique to keep a constant flow of berley is to use a berley bucket or an onion bag.

I like to have my berley mixture really fishy, so into the onion bag or bucket I place 2kg of pilchards, blended into 2kg of chicken pellets, 2kg of Wilson berley pellets with aniseed and a litre of Wilson tuna oil.

This is then lowered with added weight to combat the depth and current all the way to the sea floor. As the currents pressure pushed into the bucket or bag, disperses the berley. Over a short period of time, the berley attracts fish to your fishing location and when flicking out baits, continue get the kids to cast into the berley trail as this is where the fish will be schooling up.


Growing up as a young boy, I learnt from experience and being hands-on was always the best way to learn. My children are no different, and I guess there are a lot of kids like me.

When I get my kids involved, it might begin with the location, weather and tides, but also the rigging process and knot tying. This begins at home, but when on the pier can also continue, along with baiting up, berleying and finally casting the setup altogether.

One thing that I have enjoyed mostly is watching my kids learn and be able to rig up, bait up and cast all by themselves, although they do need to improve on their accuracy, the ability to do it for themselves has taken a lot of pressure off me and makes each and every time we go fishing much more relaxing and entertaining, except for when they lose a fish that is.

Tips for successful pier fishing

• Fish the first two hours of the run-out tide

• Use the right hook size for the species being targeted

• Use berley to attract fish to your area

No technology

If there is one piece of equipment that is a must to be left at home, it is any electronic device that your kids might like to play with such as a smart phone or tablet.

The whole reason for going fishing is to get kids outside and to enjoy some time together, rather than take something along for them to get lost in a game while you’re sitting there fishing.

Never ending food supply

The one thing kids need is food and when sitting back waiting for a bite, nothing can keep their focus on waiting for the rod tip to quiver better than a muesli bar or sandwich.

You can never take along enough food, so it pays to always take along an extra bag packed full with goodies for when the time comes to let them feast.

Best baits

When you go into a tackle store, there are dozens of different baits that can be chosen to use however, there are some that do work better than others. Without having to take too many options, squid, pipi and pilchard fillets won’t let you down.

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