Catfish Fishing Tips for Kids


It was a Sunday afternoon and my four-year old son and I decided to go fishing for a couple of hours to get out of the house and play outside in nature. My son hasn’t liked going fishing from the boat recently because he feels cooped up and gets bored if the fishing is slow. So he has cooled to the idea of fishing lately, but on this day I enticed him by selling the idea that we would fish from shore where he could throw rocks and run around on shore.

Bobber Fish From Shore for Cedar River Catfish

It’s funny how no matter how much money you spend on fishing equipment, and all the new fishing techniques that you learn, the most tried and true fishing technique is a simple bare hook with nightcrawler hung under a bobber. This is the simplest fishing technique to catch fish from shore while fishing with kids. We live close to the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids, IA and the Cedar River catfish population is excellent, so this is where we decided to go to try our hand at a little catfish fishing on a Sunday afternoon.


I purchased my son a Buzz Lightyear fishing pole when he was 2 years old. This pole seems to be the lucky charm, and in the past two years, has caught more fish from shore than all of my fishing poles combined when he has been with me. I wouldn’t have it any other way, because that’s what keeps him interested in fishing, and I take much greater pleasure in watching him catch fish and get so excited.

Fishing the Cedar River Backwaters

Sunday afternoon on April 27 was very windy, and made for some difficult fishing. We drove out to some backwaters of the Cedar River to do some catfish fishing and also see if we could find some pre-spawn crappie in the backwaters. I rigged up my son’s Buzz Lightyear pole with a half of a nightcrawler and a hook dangling 3 feet under a simple spring bobber and casted it out. Meanwhile, I tied on a road runner jig and casted out in search of some crappie in the shallows of the Cedar River backwaters.

At 4 years old, my son has little patience for fishing, and if you have kids this age, I’m sure you can relate. He usually likes to throw rocks and sticks into the water right where we’re trying to catch fish from shore. It’s a good thing that catching fish while we’re fishing together isn’t the main priority, but rather spending quality time together outdoors. He decided to go climb on some logs nearby to pass the time.

Buzz Lightyear Fishing Pole Catches a Cedar River Catfish

What I love about fishing the backwaters of the Cedar River, or any river for that matter, is that you’ll never know what you’re going to catch. Because river systems are so vast and connected with multiple other rivers, you could literally catch anything. Bobber fishing is one of the most universal fishing techniques, and could catch any species of fish from shore really.

Cedar River Catfish Fishing with kids

Channel Catfish Fishing on the Cedar River

I glanced back at where I expected the bobber to be in between one of my casts, and I didn’t see it. You’ve all had this feeling before when you don’t visually watch in real-time as your bobber gets pulled under by a fish. Your heart starts racing a little bit in anticipation as you scan your eyes back and forth in disbelief a little bit that the bobber must have drifted further than you thought or is sitting in a glare on the water. But after you’ve scanned enough, you finally come to the conclusion, that your BOBBER’S DOWN.

It’s important to remember when catfish fishing with kids, or fishing for any species, to be patient and go slow, and teach them. You have to put them first and focus your energy on them instead of focusing on your own fishing. The same is true in parenting as well.

I almost started reeling the fishing line in myself to set the hook because of my own excitement. All fishermen are kids at heart. I never lose that excitement of setting the hook on a fish. But I refrained, and instead called for my son. It was difficult, but I patiently waited for him to come running over from a ways down the shore so he could try to catch this fish from shore all by himself. After all, this was my whole goal of the afternoon.

I decided to pull out my phone to see if I could capture it on video.

Cedar River Catfish Fishing Video in Seminole Valley Park

The video speaks for itself as my son was able to catch the catfish from shore. He was so excited and wanted to take the catfish home. But I decided against it as we had plans that evening and I didn’t want to deal with the mess and time of cleaning the catfish. He was so proud, and I couldn’t have been prouder of him.


I don’t purposely go catfish fishing that often because I prefer to target crappie or walleye if I have my choice. But Cedar River catfish rarely let me down when all I want is some fishing action. The catfish fishing bait that I generally use is nightcrawlers because I want the possibility of catching other species of fish as well. I like to keep my options open.

 Weather Put an End to the Catfish Fishing

We were only fishing for about an hour before the clouds rolled in. I knew it would begin raining soon, so we prepared to pack up and head for the truck. It started sprinkling as my son was insisting on practicing his casting with his buzz lightyear fishing pole. He still struggles a little bit with the timing of pressing and releasing the bail button. But it didn’t take much convincing as the thunder started to roll in the distance. We retreated to the truck and drove home and listened to the tornado warning coverage on 600 WMT radio.

The Cedar River catfish population is plentiful, and we will be back to fish from shore at Seminole Valley park again. The catfish fishing is pretty good in the backwaters there, and over the years, I’ve also pulled out a number of bluegill, largemouth bass and crappie. Again, the Cedar River backwaters are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. And that’s half the excitement right there.


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