As simple as it gets
By Capt. Joe Kent
Family fishing trips can be a fun way to spend time as a family and get the kids acquainted with the great outdoors and nature. Besides the bonding; the kids will have the opportunity to learn more about wildlife including fish and other marine life along with birds and animals that live around water.
It is also an inexpensive activity where the options run the gamut for how much you can spend. For now, we are going to visit about the simplest and least expensive way to enjoy this great outdoor activity.
Besides the benefits mentioned earlier, a good meal just might result from a trip to the water.
The type of fishing we are talking about is not from a boat but from a pier, bulkhead, dock, or from the bank along the edge of a lake, canal, creek or bayou.
My first fishing experiences came from piers and docks around the Clear Lake area long before NASA Road One came into existence. As a child, the road from Webster to Seabrook was a narrow two-lane county road that ran along the edges of Clear Lake. Piers were everywhere, some were private others were public.
Directly across from the old West Mansion just before crossing the bridge between Mud Lake (now Lake Pasadena) and Clear Lake there was an old crabbing pier extending into Clear Lake. It was there that I caught my first fish, a mullet believe it or not, using a cane pole and line with bobber, sinker and hook. I never knew whether I foul hooked the fish or if it went for the chicken gizzard on my line. I was so excited that it did not matter. At that point, my life-long passion for fishing began.
For several years afterwards my dad would take me to various spots along Clear Lake and the Clear Creek Channel to fish. Not long after my first fish, I began using dead shrimp for bait and did that make a difference. Lots of croaker, hard heads, gafftop and crabs would go after my bait and the number of small fish I would take home for mom to cook was amazing.
Today, families can still enjoy this fun however the places to fish are more restricted.
For those of you new to fishing and want to give it a try, let me suggest you start out with the simple approach. Target pan fish, which are a variety of fish that are good to eat yet seldom, outgrow the size of a frying pan.
Among the saltwater species in that category are pinfish, piggy perch, sand trout, croaker and whiting. Just about anywhere you can find salt or brackish water those species are going to be around. Today the biggest obstacle is finding a spot that is either public or the owner will give permission for you to fish.
The equipment needed, let’s say the very basic is a pole, line, sinker and hook. Small rod and reels like those sold by Zebco and Shakespeare are great beginner equipment. If not that, just a pole in the five to seven-foot length with a line attached will do.
While a wide variety of baits will attract pan fish, dead shrimp, especially fresh shrimp is probably the best. Auxiliary equipment should include a box for tackle (could be a small bucket with a lid or an actual tackle box sold in sporting goods stores, hooks, weights, bobbers, pliers, fish stringer (or ice chest) and a knife.
For best results, fish the bottom, meaning do not use a bobber to keep the bait suspended. Pan fish tend to be bottom feeders.
Croaker, sand trout and whiting are likely going to be the best choice for the table. All three are great fried whole.
If your kids get hooked on fishing (no pun intended) the next stage is that they will want to go after larger fish with sharks being the number one target for most young anglers. When that happens, an upgrade in equipment will be needed along with a change in location.
Fishing is something your kids will enjoy and cherish the memories of the rest of their lives. I am a good example of that!