Fishing has long been a recreational pastime for many Americans and their families. Each year, an average of 81 million fishing trips are taken annually, according to the Marine Fish Conservation Network. In 2017, a record 101.6 million Americans headed outdoors and participated in activities such as hunting, fishing and wildlife watching. It is a great way to experience new adventures and bond with your family and as warmer temperatures approach, it will soon be the prime time to set off on fishing expeditions with your loved ones. The Laurel Highlands is one of the top spots for fishing in Pennsylvania, which boasts the Laurel Highlands Trout Trail, a 70-mile water region filled with trout and surrounded by beautiful scenery. It has also become a go-to location for families looking for an unforgettable and enjoyable family fishing expedition.

Get Outfitted in the Right Gear

Before you and your family head out on your first family fishing expedition, you must first make a pitstop for the right fishing gear. For kids, this means securing simple, straightforward kid-friendly fishing gear to begin with. For kids new to the fishing game, start them off with spinning reels or spin casting reels since they are easier to operate and won't distract from the enjoyment and excitement of the actual fishing. Live bait is always more preferable for beginners since it can be seen in the water and is less likely to become snagged. When choosing a fishing rod, it is always a good idea to downsize for smaller kids since standard dimensions may be difficult to wield for small hands. Alternatively, starter rod and reel packs are readily available and specifically aimed at kids.

You will also need to secure a tackle box, bobbers, landing net and any outdoor camping or cooking accessories required for your trip. If you are camping outdoors, be sure to include extra blankets and tarps along with flashlights and lanterns for evening adventures. Be sure to keep your fishing kit small and uncomplicated. This will increase the chances of success when your children are getting started in fishing. Finally, safety is paramount. So with that in mind, investing in a fishing life jacket and fishing gloves should be at the top of your list.

Map Your Streams Beforehand

Before heading out, check out the interactive map online and other resources to help you map out the best places for a kid-friendly expedition. Some of these in the Laurel Highlands include Laurel Hill State Park and Twin Lakes Park in Greensburg. These two sites offer additional amenities such as a playground, beaches and streams perfect for fishing, making it the ideal family setting. If you are seeking variety, Fishing Creek has been known to stock several kinds of trout in past seasons. The official Laurel Highlands Trout Trail website is filled with recommendations (and a map) of the best fishing streams in the area and can help you while planning your trip.

Don't Forget Your License

Currently, anglers are required to have a fishing license and to have it displayed when on location. This law applies to those in your family or fishing party that are 16 and older. The process can be completed both online or by mail and offers several duration options including one-day passes or five-year licenses. While it does not apply to younger kids, any adults included in your fishing expedition will need one, and doing it beforehand can check one less thing off of your to-do list. Both your license and supporting identification is required to be kept on your person when onsite.

A final tip (and one particularly aimed at fishing parties with beginners) is to explore beyond the fishing streams. The Laurel Highlands is filled with other outdoor recreational activities such as mountain biking or scenic hikes and can provide a great form of variety for your trip. There are also multiple cabins and family-friendly lodges when looking to book accommodations, which you can alternate with camping under the stars. With so many options and amenities, there’s no better time to take a family road trip down to Laurel Highlands and introduce your kids to the wonder of fishing.