Friday, November 24 , 2017, 7:22 am | Fair 49º


Captain’s Log: Treating Kids To Their Earliest Fishing Experiences

We have been having an absolute laugh-out-loud, hooting-and-hollering blast on my charterboat WaveWalker, taking young kids out and giving them their earliest fishing experiences.

Thanks to a long string of family charters with kids along and parents who ask my advice on how to give the kids good experiences, we’ve got some youngsters thoroughly hooked on fishing, and they are enjoying the fresh fish dinners.

My crew and I get a lot of questions about how old a kid needs to be to go on his or her first fishing trip.

I tell them about me holding my own kids in my arms and having them turn the handle on my fishing reel. But in general, 3 or 4 is a good age, depending upon the kid.

Older kids catch on quickly. With some help from my crew and from parents, they get an education and great experiences that teaches them about fish, fishing skills and how to care for one’s dinner.

Fortunately, we have had some fabulous stacks of fish right out in front of Santa Barbara Harbor and these are kid-appropriate fish, including sand bass, calico bass, johnny bass, ocean whitefish, chocolate bass and several other species.

Not only that, but we’ve had schools of mackerel that kids can watch right near the surface of the water.

Big baitballs of anchovies have been roving about, and it is fun to watch lightning-fast barracuda slashing through the baitfish. Kids quickly learn and accept the realities of the food chain, so these are great learning experiences.

My crew has been rigging up and baiting up fishing gear for the kids and showing them how to use it.

The best part is that fishing has been so good, it is typically a matter of seconds before a fish takes the bait, and the kids' excitement level goes wild. We teach them to keep enough for dinner and to carefully release all others they catch.

Parents are generally good at helping their kids and encouraging them. Working together with the crew, the parents make these trips memorable moments for their youngsters.

I had one kid aboard during the week who had so much fun he talked his dad into chartering the boat again the next day and invite his friends.

Schools are getting into their back-to-school schedules, but fortunately, weekends are a great time to plan an outing to add a wildly exciting curriculum to their educational pursuits. Take them fishing.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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