Fishing From The Shore

 

If you want to have a relaxing afternoon (or morning, or evening), you can’t beat fishing. The ripples in the water, the gentle tug of the line, the wind rustling in the leaves, the quiet you can’t find in the city… It’s the perfect way to unwind.

Ask most anglers why they enjoy spending time in the outdoors and you’re likely to hear the word “freedom.” Nothing brings on the sense of being alive and helps to rebuild our personal reserves as a day spent interacting with nature.

Whether looking for it or not, while fishing, people often find something more meaningful than the experience of catching a fish. Along the banks of the world’s waterways— the best souvenir from the shore is a feeling. It’s not catching of fish that’s important, but the immeasurable life lessons that you will learn and the memories you will create along the way.

Fishing is one of the most accessible outdoor sports. Nearly anyone, no matter age, income level or even fitness ability, can easily participate and it can help you lead a happier, healthier life. 

The natural beauty of the landscape can impress upon you deep feelings of serenity and peace. The tranquil water awakens within you a sense of ease. In fact, studies show that being near the water naturally helps lower anxiety.

President Herbert Hoover was quoted as saying: “Fishing is the chance to wash one’s soul with pure air. It brings meekness and inspiration, reduces one’s egotism, soothes over our troubles and shames our wickedness.”

Ninety percent of people live within an hour of navigable water holding fish. Shore fishing opportunities rest well within the reach and means of most, whether it’s freshwater fishing on the shore of a pond or inshore fishing. It’s a great way to connect with nature, get some exercise, and de-stress. Even in most urban settings, opportunities for fishing can be found. Ponds, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs are places to try.

Kids Fishing Gear Checklist

Going fishing? Here’s the gear you need to pack.

 

Wondering what to take with you when you take a kid fishing? Fishing can be extremely simple and inexpensive and still provide great recreation and opportunities to have fun and spend quality time together.  The most basic needs are a fishing line, a hook and some bait. 

Pack your tackle box with fishing equipment such as:

  • Fishing license – Number 1 on the list, because it is essential for any adult over the age of 16 to possess a fishing license. It is easy and inexpensive to purchase a fishing license. They can be purchased online – on our homepage you will find an that will point you in the right direction based on your home state. All license fees go to support fish and wildlife conservation, including youth education programs. 
  • Rod – The simplest fishing rod is a cane pole. Mid-range rods are often sold as sets with reels attached, and for the novice this is a good way to ensure the rod, reel and line are properly matched.  An inexpensive spincasting rod and reel combo can be purchased
  • Reel – Closed-faced spincasting reels are button-operated and mount on top of the rod.  The enclosed fishing line is less likely to get tangled, making them an excellent choice for a kid’s first reel.  Make sure the handle is reversible, especially if your child is left-handed.  Open-faced spinning reels are a little more sensitive, and in the right hands, a comparably priced open spinning reel may be a little farther-casting and more versatile.  However, they  may not be quite as good a choice for the novice. 
  • Fishing line – Various types exist, from basic monofilament to braided to new super polymers.  For the most part you want to match the weight of the line to your rod and reel, and to the end-tackle you’ll be using.  For bream in freshwater 4-8 pounds is good, for bass 8-20 pounds and in saltwater 8-50 pound test may be needed- around 12 would be good for redfish.
  • Hooks – Hooks need to match the fish that you are seeking based on the size of the fish’s mouth.  Sizes are a bit confusing. They run from about 30 (the tiniest) to 1 and then start climbing from 1/0 to 12/0 (a big shark hook).  A small bream hook is typically 10-6 (10 being smaller) and should have a relatively short shank.  For freshwater bass, larger hooks (3/0 or 4/0) are very popular and typically have a slightly shorter shank.  For saltwater trout and redfish  2/0 or 3/0 would be good starting points.  Circle hooks are highly recommended because they tend to hook more fish in the lips allowing safer live release. Offset hooks are also good for rigging rubber worms and jerk baits. Treble hooks are three hooks mounted together and typically used on hard lures, but they have some notoriety about hooking fish in the gills, which reduces the fish’s chance for survival when released, and snagging clothes or skin.
  • Bait – Whatever you use to attract a fish to bite your hook can be called bait, whether it’s alive, dead or man-made. 
  • Lures – These are the man-made baits that come in an infinite variety of colors, sizes and shapes.  A basic jig is good for most species, if properly sized. A jig is a hook with a heavy weight attached directly to it, around which a skirting or plastic lure or perhaps natural bait (e.g. pork rind) might be attached.  Bass anglers often use soft plastic baits like, worms, crawfish or jerkbaits and rig them to an offset hook with a sliding weight.
  • Floats – Floats or bobbers are typically used with baits rather than lures.  The float should be big enough to suspend the bait and sinkers without going more than half-way under water.
  • Sinkers – Sinkers come in various shapes as well.  In saltwater, large pyramid-shaped weights are useful in choppy surf.  A bullet or cone-shaped weight is typically threaded over the line in front of soft plastic lures.  A split shot is often placed above crickets or worms and below a float when fishing for bream or catfish.
  • Insect Repellant – Unfortunately, it isn’t only fish that like to bite at dawn and dusk, and some of those pesky insects (especially mosquitoes and ticks) can carry diseases.  You don’t want to ruin a great family outing because you need to leave early to avoid the bugs.
  • Water – Carry plenty of fresh drinking water for everyone in your party.  It is easy to get dehydrated in Florida’s sun, and you sure don’t want to have to head in early because you didn’t plan ahead.
  • Pliers – Or special hook removers are useful for extracting hooks from the fish’s mouth without getting your self injured (depending on the species; some fish have sharp teeth, gill covers or spines in their fins). They are also important in the event someone gets stuck by a hook.
  • Snacks – We’re just helping you plan ahead, watching the fish eat up all your bait can be hungry business.
  • Sunscreen
  • Fingernail clippers – these make great line clippers.
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Hat – for safety and comfort on a hot or rainy day.

To purchase any of these items, please click here and you will be redirected to Bass Pro Shops online store. We have partnered with them and purchases made through our affiliate links will earn a commission to help sponsor the efforts of our non-profit organization.

Freshwater Fishing Tips, Tricks and Tactics

Do you plan on going fishing in a body of freshwater? If you are then you need to review our freshwater fishing tips located below. These tips will give you the knowledge you need to improve your luck at fishing.

  • Explore the Waters close to home. There’s no need to venture into the depths of the woods or up a mountain to a small trout stream. Fishing is likely more accessible than you think. You can fish in the heart of downtown and still get the benefits of nature while living in an urban setting.
  • Use the Map. Use Google maps to scout bodies of water near your home and to research/recon/plan. You want to maximize your time on the water, by putting yourself in the best position while out. In any body of water, most of the fish are in 10% of it. Look for features that fish might relate to and congregate, spots like cover, structure, weeds, rocks, docks, and dropoffs.
  • Fish at the right time of day. Most freshwater fish are crepuscular feeders, which means they come out to eat at dawn and at dusk, making sunrise and sunset the most effective fishing hours. If you have time to fish, then fish.
  • Walk slowly and quietly along the shoreline while staying several feet back from the water. Pay attention to where the sun is and where your shadow is falling. You’re just trying to avoid spooking the fish. Here’s a reason to fish on cloudy days.

About Me

Fishing has always been a part of my life. Mom and dad would take my brother and I to Caesar Creek and we’d sit together on the shore and fish. I remember watching our bobbers with excitement and anticipation and, although we never caught much, these are my fondest childhood memories.

In high school, when I wasn’t busy with sports, I’d fish the local ponds around town. After graduating from Miami University of Ohio, I lived with my college sweetheart on Lake Atwood and we enjoyed many evenings on the dock watching bobbers, listening to baseball games on the radio, and enjoying each others’ company.

Looking for a change of scenery, we cashed in on the freedom of our single status and moved down the coast to Destin, FL – “the World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” With access by boat to deep water in the Gulf Of Mexico in half the time as anywhere else in the same water, there is amazing deep sea fishing. There is surf fishing from beaches of perfect, soft white sand, the Choctawhatchee Bay and it’s many bayous and rivers, rare coastal dune lakes, and lots of golf course ponds full of big Florida bass.

Fast forward a few years and we got married, another Miami merger, and then had a beautiful daughter named Drew. As someone who has always enjoyed the great outdoors, I have looked forward to sharing this passion with my children.

After our daughter was born, my wife went back to working night shifts at the hospital. When she came home, I’d leave with the baby to give her some quiet for a few hours. I started going on walks and the baby would fall asleep. I thought to myself – if I have to be out of the house and the baby will sleep for even a half hour, I could be fishing… and so I fished. I began to learn inshore fishing techniques and got pretty good at it too, catching what I was targeting – redfish and trout in the Choctawhatchee Bay.

Working and living around so many freshwater ponds, I could not help but be curious about the creatures within them. I have been fishing freshwater all of my life, but I thought this time around I wanted to see if I could go out with the intention of catching fish and deliver. To be honest, my interest was piqued by fishermen I knew who exclaimed that either: they could no longer catch bass like they used to OR they had just caught a monster fish on a nearby lake. I decided to start learning how to use artificial lures and baits, practicing in short spurts before and after work on the many ponds nearby. It was without much success at first, but I kept practicing and, once I started catching them, I did not stop. I was hooked on bass fishing.

Why Fish

There are many reasons to fish – the anticipation of feeling a fish bite your bait, the exhilaration of setting the hook, and the fight between you and a creature that is strong enough to pull your line and run away from you. Fish are majestic creatures, to see them leap out of the water is a sight that never gets old.

Another thing I love about fishing is that the learning never stops. Every time I go out, I learn something new about the outdoors, the habits of bass, a new fishing technique, a better way to cast, etc. There is a control of error in the act of angling that provides anglers with almost instant feedback. If you’re not catching fish, you start asking why and you look for the cause of your error. The angler who learns to correct himself and solve the problem becomes a better angler. It’s a great group activity, but it is also a very individual event. Your personal skill set and knowledge determine in large part whether or not you catch fish. Fish might not be in the exact spots where you’ve caught them before, but the fish are always in the water. It’s up to you to know where they might be based on conditions, timing, and everything you know. There is sitting on the shore with some bait floating out in the water and then there is actively pursuing fish. Both catch fish, one catches them more often.

Inshore and bass fishing have in common the fact that we target big, monstrous fish with light tackle. There is very little between you and the fish. We are tackling monsters with light tackle. They shake and the hook comes free – there is nothing like the heartbreak of losing a fish that makes a man vow to never duplicate the mistake that cost him the fish.

I fish because I want to show my daughter and son the beauty of the world. I want to show them how to conquer it and help conserve it. I want them to be proud of me. Fishing helps me feel connected to the natural world, to feel grounded, calm, and at peace. Mostly, I fish because I have a need to explore. In the spirit of curiosity and conquest, I answer the call of the wild.

 

How To Fish For Bass Using Circle Hooks And Soft Plastics

How To Fish For Bass Using Circle Hooks And Soft Plastics

There are many styles of fishing. This article will show you the most simple and effective way to get fishing. This is my go-to bass fishing setup. It’s a variation of a weightless texas rig, using a circle hook instead of a straight shank or offset hook, and it’s a great way to fish plastics and catch some bass.

 

Gear

Before you head out for your first fishing trip, you’ll want to make sure you have the following gear:

  • Fishing License – get your Florida bass fishing license, please click here
  • Rod – Most bass fishing rods run between 6 and 8 feet. Lighter tackle is great is better for beginners. It’s more sensitive, making it easier to detect bites. Moderate and heavier power rods are ideal for reaction baits and finesse presentations.
  • Reel – I recommend a spinning reel for most beginners. I like the Quantum Throttle Spin Reel, either the THX30, which is what I would consider a medium-sized spin reel, and the THX20, which is smaller. For kids, you’ll want a spincast reel.
  • Line – For bass fishing, spool your reel with six to 12-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line.
  • Hooks – For this rig, use a 3/0 circle hook. A circle hook curves inward, which means you do not set the hook like you do with an offset or straight shank hook, you reel in which helps the hook find a convenient home in the corner of the fish’s mouth. These are good hooks for young children and beginners, because it helps prevent from gut hooking fish and hooks are almost always easily removed without the need for pliers of dehooking devices.
  • Bait – I primarily use plastic worms, but you can use craws, lizards, or any other soft plastic. I like the Zoom Trick Worm in White, Limetreuse and Bubblegum or for a more realistic baitfish presentation, the Yum Swurm product line.
  • A place to fish – There are many factors to consider when choosing the best place to fish, but fishing is fun and to get started you just need a body of water you can legally access.

Rigging

You can either use a palomar knot or a clinch knot. Using either knot, tie the circle hook onto the terminus of your fishing line. Thread the plastic worm onto the hook, starting at the head or thickest part of the creature.

To tie a palomar knot:

  • Pass the fishing line through the eye of the hook, pull about 6 inches through, double the line back and go through the eye again
  • Tie a simple overhand knot in the doubled line, letting the hook hang loose
  • Pull the end of the loop down, passing it completely over the hook
  • Pull both ends of the line to draw up the knot

To tie a clinch knot:

  • Thread the end of the line through your hook
  • Wrap the line around itself 4-6 times around itself
  • Feed the end of the line back through the loop and pull it tight

Casting

When you’re ready to cast your line, hold the rod out to your side, then sweep it forward like you’re skipping a stone as you release the line.

Retrieving

Start reeling in very slowly, lightly jerking the bait to give fish the impression that it is alive. Experiment with different methods until you get a bite. Do not immediately start reeling back in as soon as you’ve cast. It is not uncommon to catch a fish on the first cast in a good location at the right time. Sometimes it seems instantaneous with the bait hitting the water – so be prepared. Don’t cast and relax. Be ready to set the hook. After you’ve reeled in a little bit, you can let the bait lay still a few minutes – this is called deadsticking.

Catching Fish

You will be able to feel a “strike” or a “hit.” It feels like a thud or a pull on the line. Keep your line taught enough to engage immediately if needed. Watch your line. You might see the slack go tight, as if your line is swimming away – that’s a fish, set the hook. After a few casts and retrieves, if you still haven’t gotten a bite, try casting somewhere else.

Beginners catch fewer fish – a lot of times not even realizing they were getting bites. It can be difficult to tell if you have a bite or if you’re just feeling a change in the bottom, a current or the tug of vegetation (happens…). Only practice can help you get better at detecting bites and reacting to them.

Remove the hook

Gently back the hook out, so that it comes out the way it came in. There are special tools designed for taking hooks out, although needle nosed pliers work quite effectively. Circle hooks almost always hook conveniently in the corner of a fishes’ mouth. If you’re just catching for fun, take a quick picture to commemorate your catch and toss the fish back gently into the water.

For the video, please click here

 

Fish Species:

The Largemouth Bass

The largemouth bass is a freshwater gamefish native to North America. This specific species of black bass is the most popular game fish in America. The upper jaw of a largemouth extends beyond the bottom. It’s wide mouth results in the fish’s nickname of “bucket mouth.” Catch this freshwater fish in pretty much any body of water within the lower 48 states. Ponds, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs are home to America’s favorite freshwater game fish. Much of its popularity is due to the availability of fishing opportunities. Ninety percent of people live within an hour of navigable water holding bass.

Locate Largemouth Bass

If you’re wondering where to fish, remember the first rule of fishing – location, location, location. In any body of water, 90% of the fish occupy only 10% of it. If you want to learn how to catch bass, you need to know how to target their habitats. Bass prefer shallower areas in a body of water with some type of cover. Cover can mean vegetation, brush, trees, or structure, such as docks, trees, or submerged logs. These types of areas provide food, shelter, and shade for fish. Aquatic vegetation such as lily pads, hydrilla, weeds, and grass, etc. will be home to a variety of fish. So, find grass and you’ll find bass. You’ll also find bass at points – A point is any part of the shoreline where the bank sticks out into the water.

Baits

Soft plastic baits mimic the creatures bass prey upon, such as worms, frogs, and lizards. The plastic worm is the most dependable artificial bait for largemouth bass. Work plastic baits along the bottom or by raising the rod tip a few feet, then allowing the worm to sink. Keep the line taught and you can feel the bass “tap” the bait. Be prepared to set the hook right after casting. Bass will often take the bait on the initial fall. Let the bait sit for a few seconds before starting to reel it back in. The best live baits are shiners (minnows), hooked through the lips or back, and worms. Fish live baits under a float or free-lined. 

Fishing With Children

Introducing children to fishing can be a rewarding experience. To ensure a positive experience, here are some simple tips to keep in mind:

 

  • Have fun. Seeing your child enjoy reeling in their first fish is rewarding. (Take pictures!)
  • Target areas with a high likelihood of success. Most kids are satisfied catching lots of smaller fish such as bluegills rather than catching fewer, bigger fish such as bass. Catching a few fish on the first few outings will peak children’s interest and make them look forward to the next trip.
  • Use live bait to increase the chance of catching a fish. Live bait is also more interesting for children.
  • Pick a place that is easy to get to, comfortable and safe.
  • Bring snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent and first aid basics. This will make your trip comfortable for everyone.
  • Provide them with simple tackle in working order. Nothing can be more discouraging to a child than complicated equipment or equipment that doesn’t work. Consider giving the child their own fishing outfit. This gesture is practical because short rods are easier for kids to handle.
  • Above all else, have patience. You will be unsnagging lines, baiting hooks and landing fish for them often. On your fishing trips with youngsters, they will get dirty, fall down or even get a little wet. By taking time to introduce children to fishing, you may end up with a fishing buddy for life.

 

I Caught A Fish Just Like You, Daddy

 


Drew was in the bath playing with her Munchkin Fishin’ Bath Toy like she has many times before, but tonight she gasps and exclaims after connecting the magnet on the bobber with the fish once more: “I caught a fish! Just like you, Daddy…”

There are many reasons to fish – the anticipation of feeling a fish bite your bait, the exhilaration of setting the hook, and the fight between you and a creature that is strong enough to pull your line and run away from you. Fish are majestic creatures, to see them leap out of the water is a sight that never gets old.

Inshore and bass fishing have in common the fact that we target big, monstrous fish with light tackle. There is very little between you and the fish. We are tackling monsters with light tackle. They shake and the hook comes free – there is nothing like the heartbreak of losing a fish that makes a man vow to never duplicate the mistake that cost him the fish.

I fish because I want to show my daughter the beauty of the world. I want to show her how to conquer it. I want her to be proud of me.

Fishing helps me feel connected to the natural world, to feel grounded, calm, and at peace. Mostly, I fish because I have a need to explore. In the spirit of curiosity and conquest, I answer the call of the wild.

 

Everything You Need to Know About Fishing with Kids

Take time to teach a child the fun, recreation and life lessons of fishing
 

By Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Staff (FWC)

Few memories stick out in our minds as clearly as catching our first fish, and who we were with when we caught it. 

With three million acres of lakes and ponds, 12,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 8,000 miles of coastline in Florida, you’re always close to good fishing in Florida. Here are some tips to make those fishing memories with your kids …

How to Get Started

The biggest thing to know about going fishing with kids is that it is about spending quality time together. Avoid putting pressure on yourself or the kid by expecting to catch lots of fish or especially big fish: Remember they call it fishing — not catching — for a reason. Patience is the key! Fishing provides a great time to learn more about your kid and just talk.

Here are some helpful suggestions to get the most out of your time fishing together:

  • Be patient … very, very patient. Of all these suggestions, this one may be the most important. The goal of fishing — superseding even the actual catching of fish — is to have an enjoyable time. Unfortunately, anyone fishing for the first time can expect tangles, snags, and lost fish. Realize that these events are likely to occur – they happen to everyone — and take them in stride.
  • Avoid negative criticism, don’t raise your voice and concentrate on covering a few basics while having a good time (and hopefully even landing some fish).
  • Keep it simple. This principle runs a close second in importance. Even if your kid’s line is a bit too slack or his or her rod tip held a bit too low, avoid turning the first fishing trip into a two-hour list of “Dos” and “DON’Ts.” Once you have covered the basics, a good rule of thumb is this: Unless it’s something that will really prevent them from being able to catch a fish that day, don’t mention it. Some concepts can even be learned before the actual first trip, such as knot tying and casting techniques. The simplicity concept also applies to equipment and methods. Someone who has never wet a line before will do much better with a spincast or spinning rod and reel than with a baitcaster. Similarly, live bait makes for an easier start than does learning to work a complex lure. Remember—if that first trip is enjoyable, there will be plenty of future opportunities for instruction in the finer points!
  • Make the kids comfy. While any outdoor sport often involves some minor hardships, do as much as you can to make your kid comfortable on that first trip. Remember the raincoats in case it sprinkles, bring a mid-morning snack or a picnic lunch as well as a comfortable lawn chair and a jug of iced tea or water.
  • Catch fish. While there’s a great deal more to the pure enjoyment of angling than simply ending up with a fish on the line, most people associate fishing with catching fish! Instead of going after the glamorous but sometimes-elusive bass on the first outing, it might be better to seek the commoner and easier-to-catch sunfish. A beginner is also more likely to land a fish using live bait than with any other method. The king of live baits is the lowly worm, and it will catch not only the easier-to-find sunfish and catfish, but will attract any bass that happen to be nearby as well. That first fishing trip, however, is not too early to begin making your student aware of the other (and more important) pleasures to be had from this sport: the fresh air, the great outdoors, interesting wildlife, and good company.
  • Avoid the “ick.” There’s no getting around the fact that fish (and certain baits) might be unpleasant to touch when one is not used to it. While any competent angler will eventually need to learn how to bait hooks and handle fish, these experiences can wait until later outings. If a newcomer is willing to do their own baiting and unhooking (after a proper demonstration or two), by all means allow him—or her—to do so. If not, show the correct procedures at least several times during the first trip. While live worms are hard to beat, cut hot dogs will work well on panfish and catfish and may be better starting bait for some individuals. Similarly, using barbless hooks makes unhooking fish much easier when the time comes, and wetting the hands prior to handling a fish will not only protect the fish but will keep the beginner’s hands from getting slimy as well.
  • Introduce angler ethics. Younger beginners in particular are very impressionable, and fishing provides an ideal opportunity to teach responsibility and to reinforce the importance of good choices. Don’t introduce too many rules at once, but do take time to properly identify and measure fish and to address size and bag limits (and discuss the reasons behind them). The first fishing trip is also the time to begin instilling a respect for fellow creatures — whether released or kept for the frying pan—and the environment we share with them. Fishing is a sport in which very often no one else is watching, and behaviors learned here can have incredibly far-reaching implications for other aspects of life.

When to Go

Anytime that you can get away with your kids safely is a good time. However, as you gain experience you will see that some times are more likely to be productive than others. The following bullet points provide some basic fishing tips.

  • Time of Day: For freshwater fishing especially, dawn and dusk tend to be more active feeding periods and also allow some escape from the heat. However, any time of day you can expect to catch fish, if you know where to find them and are patient.
  • Weather Patterns: Many species of fish tend to fish actively just before a front passes through and then shut down somewhat during the sudden barometric changes associated with the storm front itself. If the front lasts for a prolonged period, after it passes can again bring enhanced fishing conditions. One good source of weather information is Wunderground.
  • Spawning Cycles: Each fish species is prone to spawn at a certain time(s) of year. Part of this is programmed into their genes, but much of it is triggered by water temperature, lunar phase and their nutrition as well. For freshwater fishes, we have a chart that shows peak fishing seasons and shows their preferred spawning temperatures.
  • Events: Youth programs: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is working to create The Next Generation that Cares about conservation by getting kids and young adults outdoors and connected to nature through active, nature-based recreation, which studies show enhances children’s quality of life.

Equipment 

Fishing can be extremely simple and inexpensive and still provide great recreation and opportunities to have fun and spend quality time together. The most basic needs are a fishing line, a hook and some bait. The line can simply be wrapped around a can, but a basic cane pole with no reel is easier to handle and normally a better choice. For bank fishing with a cane pole and live bait (for example, crickets or worms), simple sinkers and a bobber are useful. Such a kit can be put together for less than $20. Other rod-and-reel options and suggested gear are listed below.

  • Rod: The simplest fishing rod is a cane pole. It can be homemade or bought for a few dollars. In freshwater, a utilitarian rod is medium-weight, 6 to 6.5 feet long and designed to match the type of reel you want to use. For spincasting reels, a pistol grip with relatively evenly sized line guides on top. For an open-faced spinning reel, the guides will be underneath, and the rod should have larger line guides near the handle graduating out to smaller guides at the tip. For bait casting, the reel will go on top, the handle may be straight and the guides are pretty even in size. Mid-range rods are often sold as sets with reels attached, and, for the novice, this is a good way to ensure the rod, reel and line are properly matched. An inexpensive spincasting rod and reel combo can be purchased for about $20 that will last, or less expensive youth models can be bought for less than $10.
  • Reel: Closed-faced spincasting reels are button-operated and mount on top of the rod. The enclosed fishing line is less likely to get tangled, making them an excellent choice for a kid’s first reel. Make sure the handle is reversible, especially if your child is left-handed. Bait-casting reels are the ones that have fishing line rolled on them more like a spool of thread and the spool spins to release the line. This is the next step up in most circumstances and requires a little more practice to become proficient. A fly-fishing reel simply holds the line, which is manually stripped off by the angler and the whipping motion of the fly rod is used to cast the lure.
  • Fishing line: Various types exist, from basic monofilament to braided to new super polymers.  For the most part you want to match the weight of the line to your rod and reel and to the end-tackle you’ll be using. For bream in freshwater, 4 to 8 pounds is good; for bass, 8 to 20 pounds; and, in saltwater, 8- to 50-pound test may be needed — around 12 would be good for redfish.
  • Hooks: Hooks need to match the fish that you are seeking based on the size of the fish’s mouth.  Sizes are a bit confusing they run from about 30 (the tiniest) to 1 and then start climbing from 1/0 to 12/0 (a big shark hook). A small bream hook is typically 10-6 (10 being smaller) and should have a relatively short shank.  For freshwater bass, larger hooks (3/0 or 4/0) are very popular and typically have a slightly shorter shank. For saltwater trout and redfish, 2/0 or 3/0 would be good starting points. 
  • Bait: Whatever you use to attract a fish to bite your hook can be called bait, whether it’s alive, dead or man-made. For catfish, it might be chicken liver or a smelly ball of cheese or bread impregnated with scents. However, most people think of baits as being things such as crickets or worms for catfish and bream, or small fish such as minnows and shiners for bass, to bigger fish for going after large saltwater fish. How you handle the bait is important to keeping them alive, so that they’ll be active when hooked. Worms, for instance, need to be cool and moist, and fish need to have oxygenated water. Please don’t release any live bait alive when you are finished, since they can contribute to the spread of diseases.
  • Lures: These are the man-made baits that come in an infinite variety of colors, sizes and shapes.  A basic jig is good for most species, if properly sized. A jig is a hook with a heavy weight attached directly to it, around which a skirting or plastic lure or perhaps natural bait (for example, pork rind) might be attached. Bass anglers often use soft plastic baits, such as worms, crawfish or jerkbaits, and rig them to an offset hook with a sliding weight. Spoons are flat, metal lures shaped somewhat like the bowl of a spoon with a single embedded hook or trailing treble hook and are quite versatile. Plugs are typically wood or plastic with a cupped front face and lip that makes them dive to different depths. Spinners have a metal blade that twists as it goes through the water creating flash and noise. Poppers and flies are typically smaller and often used with fly-fishing or ultra light tackle. Some rules of thumb are bigger baits for darker waters or in heavier cover with gold or silver colors and smaller baits with dark colors such as grape in clearer waters. An important consideration is the hook size should match the fish you are after, and it needs to be of an appropriate weight for the rod/reel and fishing line you are using.  For 2-4 pound test (ultra light) use a 1/64- to 1/16-ounce lure; for 6- to 8-pound test, use 1/32- to 1/8-ounce lures; for 10- to 14-pound test, you can go with a 1/8- to 3/8-ounce lure and medium action tackle. Experiment with your lure where you can see it to determine how to get the most action from the lure.
  • Floats: Floats or bobbers are typically used with baits rather than lures. The float should be big enough to suspend the bait and sinkers without going more than halfway under water.
  • Sinkers: Sinkers come in various shapes as well. In saltwater, large pyramid-shaped weights are useful in choppy surf. A bullet or cone-shaped weight is typically threaded over the line in front of soft plastic lures. A split shot is often placed above crickets or worms and below a float when fishing for bream or catfish.
  • Sunscreen: In Florida sunscreen is essential. A 30 SPF waterproof sunscreen is a good choice.  On the water, 45 SPF or more is probably safer.  Get kids to start the habitat of applying sunscreen early.
  • Sunglasses: Another very important item to bring and use to protect your eyes and enhance your vision through the water is a pair of sunglasses.  Polarized lenses will significantly increase your ability to see fish and your bait through the glare on the surface of the water.
  • Hats: As with sunscreen and sunglasses, hats are important for safety and comfort on a hot or rainy day.
  • Insect repellant: You don’t want to ruin a great family outing because you need to leave early to avoid the bugs.
  • Water: Carry plenty of fresh drinking water for everyone in your party. It is easy to get dehydrated in Florida’s sun.
  • Pliers: Pliers or special hook removers are useful for extracting hooks from the fish’s mouth.
  • First Aid Kit: When you’re with kids, it’s always good to have a few antiseptic wipes and Band-Aids along. Having some aspirin or medicine for sea sickness if you are going offshore is also useful.
  • Snacks: Watching the fish eat up all your bait can be hungry business.
  • Fishing regulations: The FWC is constantly evaluating the health of various fish populations and determining what anglers in particular communities want from their local fisheries. The FWC tries to keep the rules simple, but you should always check for the current management efforts and bring a copy of our regulations guides with you when possible. Remember: Teaching kids the “right way” from the beginning is an important part of getting them on the right track. . 
  • Camera: A kid’s first fish is a big deal. Make sure you get a photo.
  • Tape measure: Having a tape measure is important to complying with the law, since there are size limits on many species of fish. 
  • Towels: It’s also useful to bring a few old towels, paper towels or wet naps with you. Fish have a “slime” layer that is very sensitive and helps protect them from infection.
  • Rain Gear: Summer afternoons in Florida have a tendency to turn unexpectedly to rain, and, in winter boat rides can sometimes become chilly if the water splashes on you.
  • License: It is easy and inexpensive to purchase a fishing license. A resident annual freshwater fishing license is $17, and a resident annual saltwater fishing license is also $17. Licenses can be purchased online at MyFWC.com/License, at retail agents such as sporting goods stores or other retailers that sell hunting or fishing equipment, by telephone at 888-FISH-FLOrida (347-4356) and at local Florida tax collector offices.