by Capt Mullet
March is finally here and along with it is Spring Break. And that means a lot of boys and girls on my boat. Kid trips are very special and they are totally different from an adult trip. Most kids do not care what they catch so targeting "the Big 3" is not necesarily the goal. Making sure the young ones catch a lot of fish is how you make them happy. These lucky boys caught a 7 pounder! WOW!!!!
Let's start out with the really young ones (ages 5-9). For young ones I keep a few 6 ft rods (med-heavy) with very small rod handles(6 inches or less) so that they do not have to struggle with adult size rods. Try to find areas similar to the rock walls in Campbells Bayou or the deeper holes in the back of Greens Lake or the Galveston ship channel that are ideal areas for catching lots of panfish. Nice croaker!
The experience of being on the boat is new and exciting to them so stopping along the way to look at dolphins in the water and birds on the shorelines is critical to give them the whole experience. Once you get them fishing and catching a few then let them do whatever they want from there. I will sometimes throw a few panfish in the livewell because they will be entertained by watching them swim around. Playing with their catch and the live shrimp in your baitwell is something that every boy and girl will love to do so don't force the issue of making them just fish the entire time. Happy Kids!!!
The next age bracket is 9-13 years of age. The experience level of kids this age can go both ways. I have had 10 and 11 year old kids that were better than some of their parents. Experienced young anglers like this can drift fish for trout and reds and they will have no problem fishing like adults. This young man will outfish most adults.
But kids that have never fished before at this age are better off just learning to catch panfish and the occasional big 3 fish. Trips anchored up at the jetties, deep holes, rock walls and gas rigs are perfect for them. That way you will keep them busy with panfish and the occasional drum, speck or sheepshead will come in to play. I recommend the same size rod of 6 to 6.5 ft in length with a short rod handle. Fishing on the bottom with carolina rig style set ups is preferred in deeper waters (8 ft or more) and popping corks works well for kids in shallower waters especially against the rocks. What a catch!!!
Kids 13 and up can definitely fish with adults. Just make sure the guide or one of the adults (if not on a guided trip) are working with them the whole time. Casting for them if neccesary, baiting their hook and helping teach them how to use the rod and reel properly. Don't forget to talk to them about conservation. Most kids want to keep everything they catch so make sure and take the time to talk to them about catch and release and the importance of our fishery for their future. Kids love to catch sheepshead!
Always remember that safety is very important. Making sure the kids are wearing eye protection 100% of the time is critical. Safety glasses or sunglasses both work just fine. Life jackets that fit them properly are also important. There are a lot of ways for young kids to get hurt on a boat so make sure that they are safe when driving to different locations.
Make it all about the kids and I promise you will have a young angler for life to go fishing with all the time. Take a kid fishing and tight lines!!