What Should Kids Wear for Fishing? (Checklist Included)

back view of grandpa and kid fishing by the river

Many kids enjoy fishing, and whether you’re getting ready to take your little ones on their first fishing excursion yourself or sending them out with Grandpa, you may be wondering what kids should wear for fishing.

While a few details may change depending on the weather and location, dressing your kids for fishing is quite simple. A comfortable shirt and pants with some sturdy shoes are all you really need. See the checklists below for some additional accessories depending on the details of your trip.

What should kids wear fishing checklistClick here to download our printable kids fishing clothes checklist free from Outdoor Empire!

Summer Fishing Outerwear for Kids

The most common time of year for people to enjoy fishing is the summer. Because of the seasonal heat, you don’t have to worry about dressing your kids in layers, but you still want to find kids’ fishing clothes that are both comfortable and functional.

Proper kids’ fishing clothes vary slightly depending upon the particular fishing environment, but you can use the following checklist for the most basic needs for all occasions. Then reference the other sections below for additional needs.

Shirt: In most cases, a thin t-shirt is perfectly fine for fishing in the summer. You may want to add a nylon cooling shirt over a base layer if your kiddo will be directly in the sun for several hours.

Shorts/pants: Both shorts and long pants make good fishing attire. Shorts are great for kids who will be fishing in scorching weather and will get a lot of direct sunlight. You might want to opt for pants if your little one will fish in a wooded environment that is likely to have ticks.

Shoes with good traction: Ordinary tennis shoes or sandals are fine for fishing in most situations. Just make sure to bring shoes that can get wet if your kids will be stepping into the water to fish. If they’ll be on a boat or a dock, make sure they have good grip on wet surfaces. If on the bank, be sure they have good traction so they don’t slip in the water by accident.

Hat: It could be a wide-brimmed hat or a baseball cap, but either way your child should wear a hat. This keeps the sun off their cheeks and out of their eyes.

Sunscreen: While it doesn’t fall into the clothing category, you should never forget to lather your kids up with sunscreen before sending them on a fishing trip in the summer.

2 kids fishing by the river in a hot day

Lake or Boat Fishing

If your kids are fishing from a boat on a lake, they need clothes to shield them from the sun. The list above should cover the basics, but make sure they also have the following: 

Sturdy shoes: Sturdy shoes with good grip are essential for keeping them from sliding around on a slick deck.

Sunglasses: The sun and its reflection can be really bright when you’re out on the water, so sunglasses are a must!

Lifejacket: A proper-fitting lifejacket is probably the most important item when fishing from a boat or dock over deep water.

River Fishing

Fishing on a riverbank can be more laid back than in other environments. You’ll usually find a lot of trees and bushes to provide shade. Your kids still need comfortable clothes, but a hat and sunglasses may not as crucial if they are fishing from a shady river bank.

Focus instead on dressing them to ward off ticks and to protect their extremities from scratchy underbrush by using the following list:

Long pants: You want to keep their legs protected from both bugs and scratchy twigs and branches.

Comfortable shoes: Some sturdy shoes with good traction are important when your kids are standing on an uneven riverbank. Sandals will probably be too slick and not offer enough support. Dress them in shoes that will keep them feeling solid on a muddy bank.

Ocean Fishing

Deep-sea fishing is an awesome experience, but it exposes your kids to a ton of direct sunlight. You want to dress them in fishing clothes that help them stay cool but offer protection from the sun’s rays. Be sure to use the basic checklist and double-check for the following items:

Sturdy footwear with rubber soles: You’ll want your kiddo to be steady on the boat deck when deep-sea fishing. While any shoe with a rubber sole will work, deck shoes are your best bet.

Hat and sunglasses: These are essential accessories for deep-sea fishing. A hat shields your kid’s face from the sun, and a nice pair of sunglasses will protect young eyes from the sun’s harsh glare on the water.

Light jacket: Even when it’s summer, it’s a good idea to send your kid with a light jacket when on the ocean. The cool ocean breeze can cool them off quickly, even when the sun is out.

Life vest: Don’t forget a lifejacket any time your child is on a boat!

Inclement Weather

If there’s a chance that your kiddo may get caught in a rainstorm while fishing, you may want to take a few special measures when dressing them for the occasion.

You can use whichever checklist corresponds with their fishing environment and season but add the following to help your children stay dry and comfortable in inclement weather:

Rain jacket: A good rain jacket that will repel the water and keep your kids dry will make their experience much better. (But skip the umbrella! They won’t be able to hold both a fishing rod and an umbrella at the same time.)

Rain boots: Anytime little feet get wet, things get pretty miserable. A pair of simple rubber rain boots will help them last longer in inclement weather.

Related: Best Time of Day to Go Fishing

Spring and Fall Fishing Attire for Kids

2 kids holding fishing rods

In most regions, the spring and fall seasons feature mild temperatures that are perfect for fishing. You don’t need to worry about bundling your kids up, and you also don’t need to be concerned about them getting overheated. Keeping them comfortable in their fishing environment should be your top concern.

In general, however, you can use the same checklists as for summer, then add just a couple of things for the cooler weather such as:

Jacket: A light to medium jacket with a hood can help keep the cool air off their little ears.

Long pants: Wearing long pants can keep those pesky ticks off their legs. They can also keep your little ones warmer if necessary.

Winter and Ice Fishing Clothing for Kids

Toddler ice fishing

Most people don’t go fishing in the winter, but if you live in a cold climate, you may want to give your little ones ice fishing experience.

The trick to keeping your kids warm and toasty during an ice fishing excursion is to dress them in layers. If they start to get overheated, they can always shed a layer or two, but dressing them in this fashion is the best way to help them stay warm in freezing temperatures.

Use this checklist for ice fishing:

Wool socks: Keeping feet warm and dry is often the hardest part; wool socks are the best at this.

Base layers for top and bottom: A good base layer can make all the difference when trying to stay warm. Look for a thin layer that will cover your kiddos from neck to ankle.

Long-sleeved shirt

Long pants

Fleece hat

Neck muffler or scarf

Mittens or gloves

Snow boots

Snow pants

Heavy coat

Dress the Part

Dressing your kiddos to go fishing is a pretty simple endeavor. No special equipment is needed. Just check the weather and the location and use the appropriate checklist(s). Your little ones are sure to have a lot of exciting stories after their first fishing trip!

We also suggest you check our article, What You Need to Start Fishing with Kids (Basic Gear & Tips).

Click here to download our printable kids fishing clothes checklist free from Outdoor Empire!

Related: A Step-by-Step Guide for Teaching a Toddler to Fish