Fishing with kids - any suggestions?

Discussion in 'Surf, Piers, & Jetties' started by Zhao, Sep 5, 2022.

  1. Zhao

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    Since I started surf fishing last year, I made quite some trials to bring my kids with me (now 5th grader girl and 2nd grader boy). I think it is a great way to spend time with them. Unfortunately, not much success.
    • We tried some sandy beaches, which I fish the most. Problem is that they cannot cast any real distance given their short and soft rods. I cannot cast well with those either. Nor can they wade much in water given their height (they do not like getting all soaked)
    • We tried some jetty in water outlets. With fast moving water in the channel, their lines are quickly pulled sideways then tangled with the rocks.
    • We tried mission bay. Not much luck. To be honest I have not figured out MB myself yet.
    • We tried sunset cliffs. Not much luck. My daughter started to bring her books to read as she was anticipating much waiting for nothing...
    • We tried Cholla's lake, which supposedly is very kids-friendly. But I do not really know how to fish fresh water other than blue gills so...
    The only place they can consistently catch something is Oceanside pier. Using a sabiki rig and 0.5 oz sinker they can get some smelts, or if lucky they can get mackerels. It was the first place I ever took my daughter to fish btw, which I posted here back in 2018 :) One big motivator was Ruby's at the end of the pier, where they could get a shake. Now Ruby's is gone...

    They are now quite reluctant to come with me, and I do not blame them given all the skunks. The way I fish does not work for their constraints of staying dry-ish and making short casts. Wonder if you can share some experience on taking the little ones to catch something. Maybe I should buy them different rods? Take them to different places? Using different tackles and techniques?

    Any suggestion is appreciated. I want to re-build their confidence in fishing. I mean if they just not interested in fishing then so be it. But if they lost their interest because I could not show them how to catch fish, that feels hard...
     
  2. old_rookie

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    You can try fishing the beach with rod holders - you cast out and when something hits let them reel it in.
     
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  3. Werfless

    Werfless The Coach ..RIP my friends
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    Bring them to me, mission bay one evening. As close to a guarantee as you will find. Wall has about 40,000 fish on it, maybe three over ten inches but the fish are there if the tide is with you and you chum
     
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  4. YNW_FISHY

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    Try finding something else to do with them. Or take them to werfless at MB if you insist on it being fishing. That's about as good as it'll get. People love to say go catch spotties in the bay with the kids. Its just not that easy honestly.
     
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  5. skrilla

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    Don't need to cast far for corbina. And if distance is an issue bump it up to 3/4-1oz and short leaders.
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    That rule can go for the bay too. Ghost shrimp in Bonita Cove can be fun. But I'd take up Werfless on his offer first.
     
  6. spicymayo

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    Rent a skiff in SD Bay and rig them up with dropper loops, circle hooks, 1oz torpedos and chartreuse gulp mullet (or bait/plastic of your choice). Drop and drag the lures around while the skiff drifts with the current. No casting needed. Easy peasy.

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  7. sdfriday

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    The 3 places I had success with my then 6 yr old were surf fishing on a 1-2ft day with sand crabs on a c-rig. Would go max waist deep for him and cast. He got a couple of nice ones over 3 trips. 2nd place was liberty station. Catch smelt from the bridge or bridge piling with shrimp on a #10-12 hook, 3 feet under water. Smelt will be there in minutes. That usually satisfied him but then we'd take the smelt and put them on a c-rig for halibut, Sbb and 1 big corvina, again from the bridge or piling. 3rd place is chollas lake. Shrimp on small hook would bring in the bluegill but you have to see them first. Walk the lake until you see them. luckily it's a small place. We did drop shot a bit for some bass as well. Where the bluegill are the bass are. Bonus place is lake jennings on kids fishing day. Guaranteed rainbow trout in about 5mins of fishing off the pier. Your 2nd grader might like that.
     
  8. Zhao

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    The boy looks serious! Congrats landing him that trophy!

    Seems he is using a ~7 ft medium rod? Maybe that's something I need to change. My kids' rods are too soft to cast 1 oz.
     
    #8 Zhao, Sep 8, 2022
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2022
  9. Zhao

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    That sounds fun! I never "drove" powered boats but maybe skiffs are not that hard? Is there any rental place you would recommend?

    Fishing wise, do you let the sinker drop to bottom, or "dangling" in the middle column?
     
  10. Zhao

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    Very cool! Thank you so much for sharing all the nice spots!

    For liberty station I guess you were referring to "Nimitz bridge"? I did not know we can fish there. Could be an interesting place. Kind of like a pier but on much calmer water. There seems to be park/playground nearby in case kids want to do something different.

    I will keep an eye on kids fishing day. I saw a video of kids fishing day in chollas lake, where they all seem to catch large catfishes. I then took my kids there on a random day and did not get anything. I looked at the lake and could not even tell which spots are "fishy"...
     
  11. spicymayo

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    Seaforth in Coronado is the spot to go to. They give pretty good instruction for operation and where you can and cant take the skiff to. You dont even need to wander too far from the marina. Theres spotties all over Glorietta Bay. Read DJ Thrills thread about fishing SD Bay for good info Fishing San Diego Bay

    Open the bail and let the sinker drop all the way down and drag along the sandy bottom. Have your kids reel up the slack after it hits the bottom. The leader from the lure should be about 12-18" so the lure will be in the strike zone and can go right over the eel grass if you drift over a patch. Spotties are usually chillin in or around the eel grass, so those are good spots to target. The circle hooks will help set the hook (with minimal gut hooking) so your kids wont have to figure that part out either.
     
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  12. sdfriday

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    for Lib station, yes, from the Nimitiz foot bridge. you can fish right off of it and you'll see a few others doing the same most days. It can be pretty productive with live bait. If you are only after smelt, take the kids down to the eastern most piling. You can stand on it and fish off of it and be much closer to the water vs on top of the bridge although you can catch them from up top as well. From the piling you'll be able to really see the smelt well and they'll be on your shrimp bait really fast. It will look lifeless at first but drop the bait 2-5 feet down and they will come. I typically use a sabiki rig with 3 hooks baited. We've caught hali right off that piling as well when using the caught smelt as live bait. It also looks like an epic shore spot for SBB but I find that spot very challenging to pull SBB with lures at least. Maybe due to pressure. BTW, for surf my kid was using a 5'6" rod with 1/4 oz egg weight and 6lb test. Not optimal but on small surf days it was enough. He pulled a 22" spotfin on a sand crab 3 yrs ago. 10mins of drag ripping on his 500 sized reel. It pulled us up the beach and we had to ask folks to get out of the way. That was fun!
     
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  13. skrilla

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    Rainshadow Enternity 7'2ft 6-12lb. I think I had him on 1/2oz that day. But we were stalking beans in the skinny so a good 10-15 yard cast was all that was needed. Surf was calm too.

    On days with more current I'll up the weight. Rainshadows are underrated and can fish 1 up above their specs in my experience.
     
  14. Mels Angling

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    I Highly recommend Imperial Beach pier right now. Take some sabikis and some current snippers anything under 40 grams works well. They'll have the chance to catch some Bonito. The locals will keep them entertained as well like catching thresher sharks near the back of the pier.

     
  15. Dry Fly Rie

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    Good on you, Dad, for trying to get/keep your kids involved with your fishing outings. It can definitely be a struggle sometimes, but it's totally worth it when it all comes together.

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    I'm by no means an expert at fishing with kids, but I have 3 little ones (5th grade boy, 2nd grade girl, & Kindergarten boy) and we've spent a lot of time on the water. The vast majority of our fishing time has been at the beach, but we've also done some pond outings and have spent some time on the creeks and rivers in the Eastern Sierra.

    I personally prefer taking my kids fishing at the beach because there are so many options for other things to do, if the fishing isn't holding their interest. If we give it 15 minutes of casting and nothing is happening, we can easily take a break to build a sand castle, dig a hole, throw a football, collect shells/sand dollars, chase seagulls, skip rocks, catch some waves, etc…
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    One strategy that’s worked well for me is to try and schedule fishing outings at the beach with just one kid at a time, so I can tailor the trip to the specific interests and capabilities of that child. Now, I know this isn’t always easy, but since I am a teacher and have my summers off, I have some pretty good flexibility with picking a day to take a single kid with me.

    When my older son is tagging along, I make sure to have his own set up as he wants to cast and do his own fishing. I also make sure we have a football and a boogie board with us so we can play catch or go catch some waves when the bite slows down. If my daughter is with me, I know we’re going to be collecting shells and building a sand castle at some point during the trip, so I make sure to bring a small bucket to hold her treasures and some some tools to help with the castle construction. And if my younger son is along, we’re definitely going to dig a big hole for him to jump into and over, so I bring a big shovel for me and a small one for him.

    I’ve found that if I’m able to take each kid on a solo outing to do some fishing at least twice during the summer, they have a great time and remember their one-on-one fishing trips with Dad as being really special (whether we catch fish or not).

    Another thing I’ve done is if I take one kid with me early in the morning to fish, I’ll have my wife bring the other two kids a few hours later to join us and we’ll end up making it a family beach outing. I’m lucky in that all my children love going to the beach, and our schedule allows for us to spend a lot of time on the sand.

    Something else that I think has been important for me having good fishing trips with my kids is to pay attention and understand what part of the fishing that each child really enjoys. For example, my oldest son really likes to be independent and make his own casts (even when he’s struggling with it). I’ve learned to give him a little space and allow him to feel the sense of accomplishment that goes along with hooking, fighting, and (hopefully) landing his own fish.
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    My daughter, on the other hand, has no interest in making casts and doesn’t even particularly like reeling in the fish. But, she absolutely loves digging up sand crabs and always wants me to use the bait she found to catch the next fish. So I ask for her help in finding crabs and she dutifully digs around at my feet until she finds some. Once we catch a fish, she likes to touch its sides and fins to feel how smooth it is, and then she wants to give the fish a name before we let it go.
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    And my youngest son only wants to reel in fish once I’ve hooked them. He likes to play in the sand and shallow water, and then when I get a fish on, he runs over and wants to reel it in and feel how strong the fish is while it’s fighting. Then he likes to hold the fish for a picture.

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    All 3 of my kids love to observe and inspect the fish we catch, so I’ve found that filling a medium-sized bucket with water and putting our catch in it for a few minutes always captivates my kids as they watch it swim around. This also allows for them to practice safely handling the fish and gives me a chance to talk about unique features the fish may have while they can see it up close (color patterns, stripes, spines, lack of teeth, etc..). I’ve also used this strategy when fishing fresh water; I’ll bring a small plastic bin, fill it halfway, and then the bluegill or small bass will go in our “observation tub” for a few minutes so they can check them out.

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    My final piece of advice is…donuts! And slurpees! And milkshakes! If I take my kids fishing in the morning, we’re absolutely grabbing donuts on the way. And if it’s hot when we’re leaving the beach, then we’re hitting a 7-11 for a slurpee or a drive-thru for a milkshake. Especially if the fishing wasn’t good. That way, even if they didn’t catch anything, they’re pumped for some sugar and/or a cold treat. Many times an Oreo milkshake or a Cherry slushy have saved a rough outing where the fish had lock-jaw.
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    If I have 2, or all 3 kids with me while fishing, I’ve just learned to be disciplined, and if the bite isn’t hot, I just put the rod down and enjoy being on the sand with them. It’s hard, because I want to grind through it and keep fishing, but ultimately, I want them to have fun when we go fishing. I’m of the opinion that if they don’t enjoy it when they’re young, they’re not going to want to do it when they (and I) are older. And as a 41-year-old guy who’s number 1 fishing buddy is still my 71-year old dad, I can only hope that one or all of my kids will still want to fish with me in 30 years.
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    You’re on the right track. Stick with it and keep your kids involved and the memories and pictures will be priceless in the coming years.

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    #15 Dry Fly Rie, Sep 8, 2022
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2022
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  16. spicymayo

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    This is a great approach. Wish you posted this 15 years ago when my kids were that age haha. Good to know there are teachers like you looking out for our kids in our school districts.
     
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  17. Bwood

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    Or don’t take them, tell them about the adventure you are about to have, show the pics and even tell them their a friend was down there having a great time as well. What you can’t have is sometimes a great motivator to want something.
     
  18. cort

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    Great post. I'm not a dad but appreciate the effort you're putting into this. I'm sure your kids do too, or will at least when a little older!
     
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  19. Zhao

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    Thank you so much for your extensively detailed response. The loving and caring towards the kids warms my heart. You have paid close attention to your kids at many levels. That's a solid example for all us dads!
    All great suggestions. Some of them I have started to do. Some I got to try. A particular one that I kind of know but has been hard to follow, is to drop the rod and play with the kids when they do not want to fish any more. Many times, they were not getting anything and wanting to leave, and I was getting some, then it was hard for me to stop even though I knew I should...
    Haven't seen my dad since I started surf fishing. Hope it won't be too long before I can wet a line with him.
     
  20. carpkiller

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    Surf can be crap if there's too many weeds.
    Bonita Cove / Mariner's Basin doesn't have surf. Or floating kelp stringers. And no scrambling around on riprap to land a fish.
    For short casting, fish in front of the big square building that's the color of a dirty diaper. There's a little cove there, and a short cast puts your bait in slightly deeper water. The eelgrass beds start right at the south edge of that building....cast as close as you dare.
    Or if you wanna wade waist deep and cast for them, it's easy to hit the drop off from Christmas Tree Point. Photo courtesy of Neuroshima: christmas tree point.jpg
    There is an underwater point right in front of the evergreen; the sand flat is very narrow there. Wade in, cast out, let out line and walk back to dry sand.
    If you have or borrow a shrimp pump, kids have a great time catching bait and they'll see all kinds of sea life while wading around.
    Be there at low tide, in the morning for the best parking. Best bite (for me) happens two to three hours before the high tide.
    And yeah...if everyone gets bored and doesn't want to play in the sand or water on the bay side....it's a four minute walk to mission beach...
     
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