Monday, October 18, 2010
Fishing With Kids
I’ve always allowed my customers to bring one or two of their children along on a charter as long as they’re at least six years old, will wear the mandatory life jackets, and can swim. Since most of my fishing is done in less than three feet of water I’ve always felt very comfortable doing this and I love being able to introduce them to some of the amazing things that swim in our waters.
Children can be tricky and restless on a small boat like my Beavertail but it’s important that they enjoy the experience right off the bat. Here’s a quick rundown of what I try to do when I have a kid onboard for their first fishing trip and really want to hook them on the sport.
The most important thing is a no-brainer: catch them something, quickly. Kids need bent rods and it doesn’t matter what species is doing the bending. Pinfish or snappers are effortless and even the sail cats we normally hate will be a thrill if it’s the first fish they’ve ever landed. Here around Pine Island a nice school of ladyfish is manna from heaven when I have an eight-year-old on the boat. Ladyfish are the perfect species for a kid because they do it all: jump, run, pull hard, and they even poop all over the deck which most kids seem to find hilarious. On top of all that we don’t eat ladyfish so you get to teach them catch and release.
Of course if you really want to give kids a thrill chop up a ladyfish (something boys especially love to watch) and toss a hunk out for sharks. When I was guiding in the Keys and had a kid on board I was going shark fishing, period. They just love everything about it, especially seeing that unmistakable shape circling the boat. The species of shark doesn’t matter. Sluggish nurse sharks are just as much fun as anything when the drag is cranked down and they’re thrashing at the surface. Nurse sharks are also a lot safer to let kids touch when you leader them next to the boat. Here around Pine Island our most common sharks are the much more dangerous bulls and blacktips, so that’s an added thrill but one I never let anyone try to pet.