Take a Kid Fishing

Rich Ellison

If you’re reading this, you love to fish. There’s no getting around it, you are combing through this publication looking for tips on your favorite subject; fishing! I’m not naïve, you may just take a pit stop here on your way to the Dauphin Island report. Or perhaps you follow FOUR TIME IFA Kayak Champ Benton Parrott; who also fishes- NOW with his own photographer in tow! Whatever the reason, I am grateful you stopped by for a few. Fishing is pretty great right now, but I wanted to change it up a little this month.

We owe it to the next generation to teach them how to fish. I know we all look forward to our precious time off work and on the water. If you want to see what pure unfiltered joy looks like; take a kid fishing! I have 3 myself with #4 due in February. My boy Shepherd, aka Strongbad, has been on me to get in the Hobie for quite some time. This Halloween I obliged his request and he opted out of the Devil’s holiday for his maiden voyage in my old war horse ;) We launched with an hour of light remaining, so he could get comfortable in the boat. I didn’t know if we would get to fish, or if this was to be solely a scouting adventure. Either way, you couldn’t wipe the smile off the boy’s face. As it so happened, he was a natural. It was very windy in Weeks Bay, but he followed my commands and did very well on the water.

I was pleased enough with his boatmanship that we covered about ¾ of a mile before turning around. The first dock light we came to had a couple that invited us to fish; which was surely because of the sweet 8-year-old in tow. However, once we got up closer my very proud son announced, “My dad writes for Coastal Angler, and he catches big fish here ALL THE TIME!” So, we didn’t stay there very long. Thanks, Shep.

We wrapped up the trip at the very first dock light I ever fished; when I started obsessively doing this nearly a decade ago. By now it was good and dark. The fish were on fire, and jumbo shrimp were walking on water. My tackle is too large for Shep in good conditions, much less windy dark of night. He held his boat against mine while I struggled to make good casts. When I finally put it in the sweet spot, pay dirt! I passed the rod and little man landed a dandy pup red! Shep got to catch a couple reds and a nice white trout. We called it a win and headed home.

A few things I would caution if you’re taking kids on the water. Keep them in an appropriate life vest. Make sure they have reflective markings and preferable a whistle, in case you’re separated. It’s not a bad idea to have some rope, if the need arises to tie them to you. We were in sheltered, shallow water with no real hazards & near shore; but once I had my son with me, I realized just how quickly a nightmare scenario could present itself to the unprepared. I see folks on the water pretty regular with small kids in the kayak with them. To each their own, but I sure wouldn’t do it.

Taking Shepherd Brooks kayak fishing for the first time on Halloween night is something neither of us will soon forget. I hope that if you have the opportunity to share your love of this sport with kids, you will do it. Hey, one day we will be old and may need the favor returned!

Rich Ellison
Outback Fishing Adventures