We had just started drifting through the low lying rubble on the south east side of the Atlantic Beach reef, when I hooked into a nice 2.lb sea bass. My 10 year old son’s eyes lit up, and then he had that look of despair that he hadn’t yet felt a bite, even though he was only in the water a few minutes. For a child, fishing with patience may be the hardest thing to teach. As the time passed, a few keepers found their way into the boat, and my son finally started to get into the action, though he still hadn’t got a keeper sea bass yet. He did manage some short blackfish on clams. Once the tide started to run harder, and the south wind freshened to 10 kts., we dropped the grapple off of one of the many pots that litter the AB reef. This is when action really heated up, we had non stop action with small to medium size sea bass, and plenty of short blackfish and of course the annoying bergalls. Every once in a while a drop back on the anchor line refreshed the action. My son’s keeper ratio turned out to be respectable, and by days end I was a hero for landing a sea bass close to 3 lbs. The look of joy on the face of my son makes all the aggravation that often accompanies boating and fishing worth the while.
As kids enter the pre- teen years, the hobbies we get them into can help to lead them from very tempting bad elements that exist in everyday world on our neighborhood streets. The trick now with fishing is to get them into the value of catch and release, and the value of the environment and not just the ego boost of getting some fish for the table. The recent fluke restrictions have made this very necessary as when the weather out in the ocean isn’t cooperating, you’re in bay choices with kids become very limited. You need to help them so you need a calm area and some action to boot, not an easy task on most weekends in a west end bay. We have gone down a road of severe miss- management with all species except for maybe porgies, and sea bass, that we would be able to traditionally get the kids into boat fishing on. From shore there is the occasional foray with a fluke, not too great, but you have snappers and some bass to go after, once you teach them to cast a lure. On a boat your best choice right now is either the porgies or sea bass, until they are good enough with a conventional reel to fish a chum slick for striped bass. (I try to stay away from trolling while breaking a child into fishing. I feel long periods of inactivity can lead to a sincere lack of interest, especially if fishing is slow.) Of course you can t go in the ocean for these fish if you are bouncing around in 4 ft seas.
Most of my fishing memories are with my father on many of the area party boats. These boats are a good choice as your entire day can be spent concentrating on the kids, remember that maybe for that day, you will spend more time working towards a fine goal then actually fishing.
The moral of this brief editorial is this:
Don’t forget the future of our fisheries, and never forget the little people we love so dear. Take a kid fishing for a day, be smart with your target species, and be prepared for a lesson in conservation, make notes! LOL You will never be so rewarded as looking at a Childs eyes once they have that same success that got all of us into the sport of recreational fishing. Your memory will last a lifetime, and you know the Childs will also. Well worth the trouble, try it and I am sure you will agree!