The water bodies in the United States hold hundreds of species of fish. These creatures can be exceptionally beautiful and exciting to catch and study. For young kids that like fishing and the outdoors, fish science in their childhood can be tremendously exciting for them and their family. That is how our family felt all these years and is why our company Toy Fish Factory exists.
One of the most fun things for kids is catching many different species of fish and identifying them. If your kids like fishing, try fishing for some of the less popular species like gar, drum, bowfin, carp and buffalo. The reason I suggest this is that sometimes you can catch these easier than typical targets like Largemouth Bass and Walleyes. Kids love to catch ANY fish.
For those serious enough about fish science, we recommend the Peterson Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of North America North of Mexico. This book is fatanstic for maps, illustrations and just learning about the fish in the USA.
If you have small kids, get started now with fish science while the fish are still here. There is a threat to nearly all our waters in the United states posed by Zebra and Quagga mussels. These invasive mussels feed on plankton. Plankton feeds the whole fish food chain starting from the bottom. The mussels, as well as Asian Carp (not common Carp) feed on the plankton that baby fish need to survive. If these invasives take too much, there is none for the baby forage fish like shad, alewife and many species of minnows. Without the forage fish, species like walleyes and striped bass have little to eat.
Now, some people are not alarmed yet, but the near total destruction of fisheries in rivers and lakes is occurring now. It happens fast. We have seen the destruction on the Mississippi at Lake Pepin, the start of destruction on the Missouri River below Lewis and Clark Lake. Fish populations will be destroyed in the Missouri River. As of yet there is no solution, and having studied this, there may not be a solution. The good old days for fishing are now in many waters.
Understanding this, we have to preserve the resource we have now. There are no "trash" fish except the Asian carp, as the Asian carp also eat the plankton that our native species need. The native gars, buffalo, bowfin, and quillbacks that are commonly bowfished need to be protected, as the mussels will wipe them out via the food chain destruction. The reason I mention these less popular species is that Bowfisherman target the big females of these fish, some 10 to 40 years old, and they kill them when they shoot them. As the mussels take over, having lost the brood stock, that species will become scarce. We all like to catch fish when we go fishing. Less fish in the water means we will catch fewer fish. This will happen to all species where the mussels invade. It is a crisis like we have never seen for our lakes and rivers.
When I was a kid, I used to bowfish (bow and arrow fishing). Now I understand the science and the threats faced, I know it is just resource destruction. I have talked to state fisheries people and they agree, the laws are lagging behind the science.