The Kelly children are hooked on fishing. All it took was a morning with Dad at the Crystal Pier Kids’ Classic Fishing Derby. They returned home triumphant. One of the kids had placed fourth in her age class for most fish caught — seven. Some had won raffle prizes.
The experience had them telling fish stories and planning their next excursion. It had hubby Patrick moaning about learning how to tie knots and Eve needing to find appropriate fishing gear for my little anglers.
“You can get out of it what you put into it,” said Dan Hart, owner of Hook, Line & Sinker (619-224-1336). “If you want to get really involved in it, there are people that own 40 fishing rods and go fishing every weekend. It just depends on how much you want to get into it. You can be successful at any level.”
I’m not sold on the sport yet, so a decent beginner rod and reel and supplies will do.
“If you are just fishing offshore or out of one of the local piers,” said Hart, “you can buy a little combo that is as inexpensive as $29 for a spinning rod and a reel. Daiwa Combos will work great for that [Daiwa D-Shock Combos, $29].”
For beginners, explained Hart, “If they fish on a public pier, like the Shelter Island Pier or Ocean Beach Pier, they don’t need to buy a fishing license, which saves a bunch of money. If they want to surf-fish on the beach, they need to buy a California fishing license, which for a resident costs $45.95. So, we send beginners to a pier so they can figure out if they like fishing before they go spend the money on a license.”
The thought of spending $45.95 per kid just to be able to fish legally had me considering ways to talk them out of fishing — until I talked to David at the Point Loma Sport Chalet. “Kids generally don’t need a license to fish unless they are over 16,” he explained. “If it is a private lake, you’ll have to buy a pass to the lake. Whoever owns the lake usually will sell day passes. But an adult will have to buy the private lake pass in addition to a fishing license.”
As far as equipment goes, “Ugly Stik is a good beginner pole,” David said, “but those are mostly freshwater. They usually use a Shakespeare reel, which is a pretty good reel. The $40 rod-and-reel combo comes with 100 yards of line, but no hooks, weights, or swivels. But for saltwater, Shimano or Daiwa are real popular reels. The cheapest saltwater setup is going to be $50.”
When it comes to reels, there are three main types. “There are the spinning reel, the bait-cast reel, and the spin-cast reel. The spinning wheel is what most people use. With the spinning wheel, you have to hold the line with your finger, and then unlock your reel, and then as you throw it you have to let go with your finger at the same time. So, kids can have trouble with that type of reel. The benefit of a spinning reel is it doesn’t tangle, but you have to use your finger to cast, so it takes a little more practice with the cast.
“The bait-cast reel is usually what more advanced fishermen use. They are really easy to cast, but they tend to get tangled a lot easier if you don’t reel in as carefully as you should. So, if kids get a little hasty with a fish, they can tangle the line.
“And then there is kind of a hybrid called a spin cast, and that’s for kids. It is really easy to cast, really easy to reel in...the line doesn’t tangle too much on it. Most kids’ poles will come with the spin cast, it’s the one with the little button in the back that they push and once they let go it starts casting.”
When it comes to kids’ poles, “Zebco is a real popular company,” David explained. “I have the Zebco 404 for kids [$20], which comes with a spin-cast reel, a rod, and a little bit of tackle — some bobbers, a couple lures, some hooks, a few weights, and a jig head or two.
“Tackle boxes are pretty simple,” he added. “You can get advanced ones that hold everything you need for fishing, but for kids, probably just a little Plano box [Plano medium ProLatch StowAway Box, $4.49]. They make tackle boxes, all the way from lunchbox-looking ones to big sport-bag-looking ones.”
Sport Chalet carries a book: Practical Fishing Knots ($12.95). I think I’ll pick one up for Patrick.