Kayak Fishing with Kids


By Holly Jones

Holly started fishing at the age of 5 in Annapolis, Maryland where she grew up. Her dad taught her how to kayak soon after, but it wasn’t until the Charleston, South Carolina Boondoggle she finally merged the two together. Holly, her husband and two young children now live in Panama City, Florida and hit the water to kayak fish, as a family, every chance they get. When she isn’t fishing she loves to work out at the gym, volunteer at her children’s school and stay busy as a stay at home mom. Prior to becoming a stay at home mom, she worked as a Herpetologist at Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina. She loves to educate people about snakes, venomous species in particular. Any reptile questions, feel free to ask away!

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ave you ever cancelled a kayak fishing adventure because you did not have someone to watch the kiddos? That was rarely a problem for us. You see, we use to live in Charleston, SC where my husband, Stan, and I had both sets of grandparents at our beck and call. A quick phone call asking to x-article-1-Holly Jones with drum watch our daughter Hannah, now 5, and our son Tide, now 3, and we were golden! It worked out great! They got quality time with family, and we got to fish worry free for hours! We had an efficient process with our kayaks and gear to get on and off the water to make the most of our time.

Things changed after Stan took a new job and we had to move to Panama City (PC), Florida! We didn’t know a single person, and left our family support behind in South Carolina. We found ourselves not hitting the water at all with the kayaks. It was difficult to see the amazing water on the beaches, and the bays with water so clear, it made Charleston look like a mud hole! After joining a few local fishing pages and seeing all the potential that Panama City had to offer in fishing, I knew it was time – time to make that leap over the hurdle and get our kids on the water with us… IN OUR KAYAKS!
Why not show them how to appreciate and enjoy the outdoors like we do? Why not get them away from the TV, iPads, and bombardment of toys they had in their closets?

Our first outing was simple. Stan and I took minimal gear for ourselves and even more “gear” for the kids. We had one fishing rod and a small tackle bag each for the test run. We both have kayaks with

Here is my list of things I consider the necessities for making sure the kayak fishing experience is enjoyable for them, but most importantly for you!

  • USCG approved Life Jacket
  • Sunblock & hat
  • Bugspray (I like badger balm)
  • Drinking water
  • Snacks (LOTS and don’t forget the sweet kind too)
  • Wipes (ya know, if nature calls)
  • Sunglasses (protect those eyes…I mean, we are slinging hooks around!)
  • Dry clothes for when you get off the water

Get those kids on the water – you won’t regret it! They will grow to love fishing, like you. Tight lines, everyone!

large front hatches/compartments. Things to keep in mind with putting a child in your boat are size, layout, and stability. My husband has a Jackson “Cuda” and I have a Hobie “Revolution 13”. Stan’s boat is much more stable than mine, but knowing your boat and its limits is key! For us, one child fit perfectly in each hatch/front compartment. I gave them a cushion to sit on, and the life jacket provided soft comfort for their backs. At the end of this article I provide a list for other items I think are necessary.

We drove to a creek-fed marsh pond, and unloaded the boats. We got the kids situated, and let me tell you how excited they were to join! Munching on their snacks, asking plenty of questions…I considered it a success! A few fish were caught – nothing too exciting. I like to include them as much as possible, so I let them help me release the fish “back to nature,” as we say.

Since that first outing, we have made a dozen more. We try to go once a weekend. We have our gear situation figured out so that we are downsized, but still have everything we need as anglers. Stan and I switch which kiddo we take; they both are about the same weight and height. With more experience, we figured out that we like the kids to sit behind us (say goodbye to those crates and BlackPaks….oh, the sacrifices we must make!), not in the front hatch/compartment. On Stan’s boat, Hannah or Tide will sit or stand right behind his seat – remember he has the more stable boat. On my boat, they sit behind me – no standing! x-article-1-Holly Jones with redfish

I assume I don’t have to state the obvious, but I’m going to anyway: you must be mindful of your casting! Let’s rip fish lips, not kid lips. We never throw top water lures out of fear of it whipping back, although it can happen with any hook! That’s why I recommend glasses, UV blocking for day and clear for evening fishing. We even bought them short, 14”spinning rods so they feel they are in on the action. Let’s be “reel” here – you know they are happy with a pinfish!

My best catch out of my kayak was a 40 pound Black drum. The whole time Tide was screaming, “Good job, Mommy!” It was a thrill to haul it onto my lap, and in the picture you will see it looks like the fish is eating Tide’s arm. Priceless!