How to Go Family Fishing: The Complete Guide for 2024

Jan 11, 2024 | 8 minute read
Reading Time: 8 minutes

There are plenty of reasons to go on a family fishing adventure. Already an angling enthusiast? It’s the perfect way to introduce your little ones to the magic of casting a line. It also gives you the opportunity to relax in a peaceful and totally natural environment, as well as to learn new skills and make incredible memories.

Two children wearing pink stand aboard a charter boat holding a variety of fish

If you’re craving some fresh air, want to get back to nature, or simply want a break from the stresses of daily life, chances are that fishing as a family is for you. But where should you start? Below, we’ve covered the best types of fishing for families, outlined some of our favorite fishing spots, and how to prepare. So put down those phones, grab the whole crew, and get ready for a new adventure!

Best Types of Fishing for Families

From bluewater sportfishing to casting off on the fly, there’s a whopping number of ways to go fishing. However, if you’re fishing with your family, chances are that not everyone is on the same wavelength when it comes to skill levels or experience. It’s likely you’ll be casting a line with your little ones or older generations of your family. They may require more stability, an easier ride to the hot spots, and less time out on the water.

A family stands on the shoreline of a body of water casting lines into the water

If you’re a regular angler who’s used to a specific technique, or spending hours exploring deep waters, you’ll probably have to adjust your expectations a little bit. Chasing big game fish in choppy waters, for example, isn’t something all families are ready for. If you have no fishing experience in your group, we’d recommend fishing alongside an experienced charter guide. You’ll be given all the support and advice you need to make sure everyone has a great time on board.

Below, we’ve delved into some of the best “all-rounder” fishing options that’ll please experienced fishers and newbies alike.

Inshore Fishing Trips

What is it? The definition of inshore fishing can shift depending on where you are. It generally involves casting a line in bays, flats, the backcountry, and coastal waters just a few miles from shore. You usually won’t travel more than 10 miles from shore, and will fish in waters that range from several inches to around 20 feet deep.

A man and a boy fish shallow waters from a boat at sunset

What’s the fishing like? Again, this shifts depending on where you are. If your group is brand new to fishing, drift or still fishing with a spinning rod and light tackle gear is common. If you’re fishing around underwater structure, you’ll likely try out bottom fishing. You don’t always need a boat to fish this inshore, either, with many locations being accessible by foot.

Best for: Newbies and families with small children. If you’re not sure how you’ll feel out on the water, you can easily opt for a short half-day trip. Shallow waters mean less risk of danger, too.

Nearshore Fishing Trips

What is it? Again, this means something a little different depending on where you go. Nearshore fishing generally includes waters just off the beach, usually around 10–20 miles offshore. Along the Gulf Coast, for example, nearshore fishing trips typically keep you within state waters (9 miles from shore), thanks to a deep seafloor drop. Depending on your location, water depth can be anywhere from several feet to around 50 feet deep.

A family fishes from a charter boat on nearshore waters

What’s the fishing like? The most common nearshore fishing techniques are trolling and bottom fishing, both of which are great for newbies. Trolling involves dropping lines in the water and waiting for a fish to bite. Bottom fishing is more hands-on and relies on you moving your rod and bait to mimic bait fish.

Best for: Older kids and families who have fished before. These trips usually involve heading slightly further out from shore, where waters can be a little choppy. You may need to opt for a longer trip to make sure you have time to reach the hotspots.

Camping and Fishing Trips

What is it? Camping and fishing involves setting up your tent (or camper van) in a national park or designated area that has prime access to a particular body of water. Rivers and lakes are especially popular spots. A lot of them boast nearby campgrounds and parks, so it’s likely you’ll be indulging in some freshwater angling action.

A campsite set up next to a body of water with a canoe resting on the bank

What’s the fishing like? Again, it really depends on whether you’re fishing a lake, river, or somewhere else. You can try out anything from trolling on vast lakes to casting a line in winding rivers, or even getting to grips with fly fishing.

Best for: Nature lovers! If your family wants to get back to basics and wake up surrounded by stunning scenery, this is the trip for you. The best part is that no one in your group needs to be a seasoned angler. You’ll find plenty of guides located around popular fishing campsites, and there are other activities to enjoy, too.

Family-Friendly Fish Species

A big part of helping the whole family fall in love with fishing is the species you’ll be targeting. It’s important to know that you probably won’t be going after line-shredding big gamers like Billfish or gigantic Tuna. These guys may look seriously impressive in a photo, but catching them is hard work and requires plenty of energy and strength!

Two boys pose with a Speckled Trout each on a boat on a sunny day with water behind them

If your kids or family members have been fishing before or are comfortable spending a whole day on choppier waters, then there’s no reason why you can’t head to deep waters on the hunt for harder-fighting fish. But if you’re newer to fishing, there’s still a whole host of exciting species you can target closer to shore.

Popular Saltwater Fish

When it comes to saltwater fishing, there are some species that have stood the test of time and remain angling favorites to this day – and a big number of them are actually inshore and nearshore fish. For example, the most popular targets in North America include Redfish, Spotted Seatrout, and Flounder, all of which can be found in shallow waters. Why are they popular? They taste great, can be found in large numbers, and are fun to catch!

A young smiling child holding a small Shark on a charter boat

Further out, you can encounter delicious Snapper and Grouper varieties, and may even come across small Mahi Mahi, King Mackerel, Cobia, and other hard-fighters. If your family members are looking for a little bit more of a workout, these guys are just the ticket. Then there are Sharks. These fish might not sound family-friendly, but Lemon and Sand Sharks, for example, can be found in shallower waters and provide plenty of angling fun. And which child wouldn’t want to brag about landing their own “Jaws”?

Popular Freshwater Fish

If there’s a freshwater catch that’s known for being a firm family favorite, it has to be Panfish. This name basically refers to any fish that’s found in freshwaters and is pan-sized – meaning it can be quickly and easily be cooked up into a delicious meal! Common varieties are Crappie, Bluegill, and Sunfish. They’re perfect starter fish because they’re plentiful and easy to catch.

Elsewhere, other popular freshwater fish for all the family include Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Perch, Salmon, and Trout varieties. One of the best parts about targeting freshwater fish is that you can keep the vast majority of the species you catch. For brand new anglers and little ones, catching their very own dinner is an unforgettable experience.

How to Prepare for Your Family Fishing Trip

Making sure that the whole family has a successful day out on the water comes down to one thing: preparation! Even if you’ve never been fishing before yourself, there are some things you can do to make sure everyone is ready for their fishing trip. Think about the following questions, and talk about them with your family to make sure you’re on the same page…

A family sit on the dock with their Chesapeake Bay Rockfish in front of them
  • How long do you want to be out on the water? It’s all about compromise here. You might be raring to spend a whole day on the water, but other family members might want a chilled half-day trip instead. Remember to discuss how long it takes to get to the hotspots, too, and factor in potential seasickness.
  • What fish will you be catching? Setting expectations, especially for newbie anglers and kids, is a crucial part of making sure your fishing trip goes well. If you’re familiar with your fishing spot, make sure you let everyone in your family know what species they’ll likely encounter. If you’ve never fished before, do your research well before heading out.
  • How involved does everyone want to be? For enthusiastic anglers, this might seem like a silly question – but keep in mind that some people may want to just hang out on the boat or in nature and take the opportunity to spend time with family. Similarly, you don’t want anyone to feel left out either.
  • What’s more important, hands-on action or catching lots of fish? There’s nothing to say you can’t experience both, of course, but make sure you have a chat with your family to see what they want to get out of the trip. Do they just want lots of hookups, which can often involve less “hands-on” fishing? Or is the actual casting and retrieving and learning new techniques the most exciting part for them?
  • Does anyone in your group have any special requirements? Some captains and fisheries have specific rules for children under a certain age, and others may want to know if someone in your group has a disability in order to properly prepare the boat for them.

If you’re fishing aboard a charter, get to know your captain. Don’t be afraid to ask your captain questions about where you’ll be fishing and what you’ll be fishing for. You can also ask them about using a certain technique, and what a normal trip with them looks like.

What to Bring With You

A happy family celebrating on a fishing charter

Another big part of making sure you’re prepared is knowing what to bring with you. You can check out our guide to charter fishing for the first time for more in-depth information, but make sure you don’t forget the following:

  • Rubber-soled footwear
  • Layered, weather-appropriate clothing
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Seasickness medication (like Dramamine)
  • Drinking water, snacks, and lunch (depending on the length of your trip)
  • Storage for food/drinks and your catch

Family Fishing: Angling Fun for Everyone!

A man and two children stand aboard a fishing boat with a rod in the water and forests around them

Whether you’re an experienced angler who wants to introduce your kids to the magic of fishing or are looking to branch out on a new adventure with the whole gang, a family fishing trip is something that you’ll cherish forever. You’ll get to spend a day out in nature, surrounded by stunning scenery, awesome fishing opportunities, and the people you love. What could be better than that?!

Have you ever been fishing with your family before? What did you catch? Any tips or tricks to share with us? Let us know in the comments. We love hearing from you!

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Katie is a Philosophy graduate from the UK, and now she spends her time asking (and answering!) the important questions, such as: What, exactly, are the best ways to bait a hook for Redfish? She first cast a line in Florida as a teenager, and it took her a while to circle back to angling as a hobby, but now she's hooked. Her personal fishing highlight? Reeling in a rare Golden Trevally while cruising the deep waters off the United Arab Emirates!

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