You’ll want to make sure you have the proper safety equipment for the child. Make sure you’re aware of the child’s weight for a proper & comfortable fitting PFD. Comfort is very important to keeping them happy on the water. Proper sun protection is another must have for anyone enjoying the water.
What kayak works best? I feel that its best to use a stable sit on top tandem kayak for a child’s first paddling experience. There are many to choose from. I am using the Emotion Tandemonium and the Native U-14.5. Both kayaks are very stable and comfortable. As your child grows older you may want to put him or her in their own kayak. There are many manufacturers that make smaller kayaks that children can paddle. My advice would be to locate your local dealer and demo as many kayaks as possible.
How to keep them interested? On the water there are many different things to keep them interested. Let the child help with paddling, this will give him or her sense of pride and importance. A little praise will go a long way with the little ones. Children are always looking to learn new things. Take the time to explain and teach them about kayaking. Take the time to stop on sand bars or beaches. Let them get out and explore these areas. These sand bars and beaches are also a great place for a shore lunch. Do some research on the area you will be kayaking and try to find areas that will be full of life; the wildlife alone can keep their minds busy.
Introducing your child to kayak fishing will take some patience. I started out catching the fish and letting my boy land them, hold them for a photo and then release. This is a great way to introduce them to fishing. Take the time to educate the young ones about conservation, proper handling and releasing of fish. This is very important information that will stay with them for life, and possibly even pass it on to their little ones in the future.
About the Author: Steve Gibson is a SW Florida native fishing the beautiful waters of Sarasota & Tampa Bay. He operates Shallow Pockets Fishing which is Sarasota's premier kayak guide service with over 20 years of fishing experience. He specializes in targeting Snook,Redfish Trout & Tarpon throughout his region. He is a member of team Florida Paddle Sports & Reellife Gear.