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‘Tis the season to get the kids fishing

An outdoor education to remember

A deckhand holds an estimated 30-pound sheephead for the happy young angler who caught it during a youth outing aboard the Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing.
A deckhand holds an estimated 30-pound sheephead for the happy young angler who caught it during a youth outing aboard the Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing.

Dock Totals 11/7 – 11/13: 2,078 anglers aboard 101 trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 700 bluefin tuna (up to 248 pounds), 22 bonito, 566 calico bass (275 released), 14 dorado, 2 halfmoon, 1 halibut, 17 lingcod, 152 lobster (120 released), 2,987 rockfish, 60 sand bass, 10 sanddab, 532 sculpin, 226 sheephead, 14 skipjack tuna, 762 whitefish, 13 yellowfin tuna, and 1,044 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Even though there are still big bluefin hanging around the outer banks, offshore fishing is rolling into a more winter-like hit-and-miss outing for boats running one-to-three-day trips. Yellowfin tuna and dorado have thinned off the northern Baja coast as well, although the yellowtail bite has been consistent outside of the Coronado Islands and off kelp paddies found floating 15 to 30 miles out from the border to south of Ensenada. As the counts reflect, bottom fishing for rockfish, sculpin, whitefish, lingcod, and sheephead has picked up as the surface action slows. Half and three-quarter day boats are finding good fishing for their anglers from the high spots off Point Loma to the lower 9 Mile Bank. With the good action on the bottom, this is a good time to take the youngsters for their first fishing trip.

I have read that most avid anglers have their first fishing experience when they are 16 years-old or younger. I don’t remember my first fishing outing; my early fishing memories are melded together in a collage of scenes from San Diego’s beaches, piers, Lindo Lake, and Baja – all places my parents or grandparents took us when my brother and I were just out of diapers. That is because they loved to fish and dragging the rug-rats along was probably easier than finding a sitter. That said, we were taught the basics early on, they didn’t just plop us babies down in a tide pool while the older kids and adults stocked up on freezer-filling fish. My early fishing memories include catching opaleye from the bluffs at Sunset Cliffs, trout in the lakes and rivers of northeastern Arizona, tuna and yellowtail coming over the rail of a sportfishing boat offshore, and dropping my grandfather’s prized rod off Imperial Beach Pier.

Grandpa Malody was always tinkering with projects around the house when he retired. In finding ways to occupy time after 40 some-odd years of working as a machinist, he took up various activities like upholstery, gardening, and rod building. He had an older split-bamboo rod that he’d stripped, retied guides, added a new seat and handle, and clear-coated to perfection. He attached a Penn Long Beach reel and it was ready to be tried. He said I would have the honor of being the first to catch a fish with it, and off we went to Imperial Beach. I still remember him admonishing me to point it straight up so I wouldn’t ‘poke anyone in the eye’ while walking out on the pier. This was around 1968 and I was six years old.

He tied a weight and hook and baited it with a strip of squid, then handed me the rod. I let the bait drop slowly to the water and put the reel in gear. The rod and reel were large compared to my usual child-sized fishing gear, so I rested the rod on the pier rail while holding the rod butt under my armpit. Grandpa said, “Raise it off the rail, you’ll damage it like that”. There were passersby including two ladies that stopped to marvel at the little kid hanging onto the adult-sized rod. I made a show of being a great fisherman and was puffed up with pride. As I raised the tip from the rail it pulled down hard and one woman said, “I think you have a bite!” As I was taught, I jerked it up to set the hook into what I was sure was a big fish – only I had hooked the piling and the rod slipped out of my hands, flipped over the rail, and fell. Of all my mixed memories of fishing in my youth, that one stands out clearly. There was no oath I remember, no yelling, just grandpa laughing and shaking his head.

To this day, I point rods skyward when among people, and I let the fish ‘set the hook’ when bit. I practice fishing etiquette when fishing around others, and to be honest, I use a lot of what I was taught as a young angler in all walks of life today. For parents (and grandparents), fishing can be a great way to instill social manners, teach biology, encourage conservation, and provide a healthy outdoors experience for kids at any age. As I found, it is also a way to get a break from rambunctious kids with cabin fever. This time of year, especially, provides lots of opportunities for such outings. In the fall/winter months, half day boats tend to concentrate on the reefs holding rockfish and other bottom biters that are targeted by simple, easy-to-teach methods. Organizations, like Captain Rollo’s Kids at Sea, offer fishing trips to kids that otherwise do not get much of a chance to get out on the water.

Captain Rollo’s Kids at Sea hosts about 5,000 kids per year on their marine-awareness fishing trips. The young anglers come from schools, non-profits, and community organizations with the priority of serving disadvantaged, physically challenged, disadvantaged, and at-risk youth and, thanks to their donors, at no cost to the schools, children and their families. If interested in joining or supporting a Captain Rollo trip, contact them here: http://www.captainrollos.org/trips/

San Diego area lakes are also a great venue for first time anglers to learn about fishing and nature. Trout season is here, and many lakes are holding their season openers this month. Whether from a rented boat or from shore, catching stocked trout can be an exciting experience for youngsters, and is not too challenging for the adults to instruct. Basically, even though there are intricate methods for catching trout from fly-tying and lure presentations, a ball of cheesy Powerbait on a tiny treble hook will get you there. Lake Jennings is holding their trout season opener this weekend from Friday through Sunday. Dixon Lake will hold their season opener on Saturday the 20th after letting the November 16 trout plant of 3,000 pounds settle in for a few days.

Fishing with the kids does not have to break the bank; in California, children 15 or younger do not need a fishing license, though lake fees may apply. Surf fishing from the beaches or piers is free, and a half-day trip on a sportfishing vessel runs about $60 per head, though they often run specials for youth. If looking for some peace and quiet, or just for new activities for the kiddos, fishing is a wholesome outdoor activity that can prove educational opportunities that can stay with a person for life. Trust me. Get (the kids) out and get ‘em!

Fish Plants: 11/19 Santee Lakes, trout (2,000)

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A deckhand holds an estimated 30-pound sheephead for the happy young angler who caught it during a youth outing aboard the Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing.
A deckhand holds an estimated 30-pound sheephead for the happy young angler who caught it during a youth outing aboard the Dolphin out of Fisherman’s Landing.

Dock Totals 11/7 – 11/13: 2,078 anglers aboard 101 trips out of San Diego landings this past week caught 700 bluefin tuna (up to 248 pounds), 22 bonito, 566 calico bass (275 released), 14 dorado, 2 halfmoon, 1 halibut, 17 lingcod, 152 lobster (120 released), 2,987 rockfish, 60 sand bass, 10 sanddab, 532 sculpin, 226 sheephead, 14 skipjack tuna, 762 whitefish, 13 yellowfin tuna, and 1,044 yellowtail.

Saltwater: Even though there are still big bluefin hanging around the outer banks, offshore fishing is rolling into a more winter-like hit-and-miss outing for boats running one-to-three-day trips. Yellowfin tuna and dorado have thinned off the northern Baja coast as well, although the yellowtail bite has been consistent outside of the Coronado Islands and off kelp paddies found floating 15 to 30 miles out from the border to south of Ensenada. As the counts reflect, bottom fishing for rockfish, sculpin, whitefish, lingcod, and sheephead has picked up as the surface action slows. Half and three-quarter day boats are finding good fishing for their anglers from the high spots off Point Loma to the lower 9 Mile Bank. With the good action on the bottom, this is a good time to take the youngsters for their first fishing trip.

I have read that most avid anglers have their first fishing experience when they are 16 years-old or younger. I don’t remember my first fishing outing; my early fishing memories are melded together in a collage of scenes from San Diego’s beaches, piers, Lindo Lake, and Baja – all places my parents or grandparents took us when my brother and I were just out of diapers. That is because they loved to fish and dragging the rug-rats along was probably easier than finding a sitter. That said, we were taught the basics early on, they didn’t just plop us babies down in a tide pool while the older kids and adults stocked up on freezer-filling fish. My early fishing memories include catching opaleye from the bluffs at Sunset Cliffs, trout in the lakes and rivers of northeastern Arizona, tuna and yellowtail coming over the rail of a sportfishing boat offshore, and dropping my grandfather’s prized rod off Imperial Beach Pier.

Grandpa Malody was always tinkering with projects around the house when he retired. In finding ways to occupy time after 40 some-odd years of working as a machinist, he took up various activities like upholstery, gardening, and rod building. He had an older split-bamboo rod that he’d stripped, retied guides, added a new seat and handle, and clear-coated to perfection. He attached a Penn Long Beach reel and it was ready to be tried. He said I would have the honor of being the first to catch a fish with it, and off we went to Imperial Beach. I still remember him admonishing me to point it straight up so I wouldn’t ‘poke anyone in the eye’ while walking out on the pier. This was around 1968 and I was six years old.

He tied a weight and hook and baited it with a strip of squid, then handed me the rod. I let the bait drop slowly to the water and put the reel in gear. The rod and reel were large compared to my usual child-sized fishing gear, so I rested the rod on the pier rail while holding the rod butt under my armpit. Grandpa said, “Raise it off the rail, you’ll damage it like that”. There were passersby including two ladies that stopped to marvel at the little kid hanging onto the adult-sized rod. I made a show of being a great fisherman and was puffed up with pride. As I raised the tip from the rail it pulled down hard and one woman said, “I think you have a bite!” As I was taught, I jerked it up to set the hook into what I was sure was a big fish – only I had hooked the piling and the rod slipped out of my hands, flipped over the rail, and fell. Of all my mixed memories of fishing in my youth, that one stands out clearly. There was no oath I remember, no yelling, just grandpa laughing and shaking his head.

To this day, I point rods skyward when among people, and I let the fish ‘set the hook’ when bit. I practice fishing etiquette when fishing around others, and to be honest, I use a lot of what I was taught as a young angler in all walks of life today. For parents (and grandparents), fishing can be a great way to instill social manners, teach biology, encourage conservation, and provide a healthy outdoors experience for kids at any age. As I found, it is also a way to get a break from rambunctious kids with cabin fever. This time of year, especially, provides lots of opportunities for such outings. In the fall/winter months, half day boats tend to concentrate on the reefs holding rockfish and other bottom biters that are targeted by simple, easy-to-teach methods. Organizations, like Captain Rollo’s Kids at Sea, offer fishing trips to kids that otherwise do not get much of a chance to get out on the water.

Captain Rollo’s Kids at Sea hosts about 5,000 kids per year on their marine-awareness fishing trips. The young anglers come from schools, non-profits, and community organizations with the priority of serving disadvantaged, physically challenged, disadvantaged, and at-risk youth and, thanks to their donors, at no cost to the schools, children and their families. If interested in joining or supporting a Captain Rollo trip, contact them here: http://www.captainrollos.org/trips/

San Diego area lakes are also a great venue for first time anglers to learn about fishing and nature. Trout season is here, and many lakes are holding their season openers this month. Whether from a rented boat or from shore, catching stocked trout can be an exciting experience for youngsters, and is not too challenging for the adults to instruct. Basically, even though there are intricate methods for catching trout from fly-tying and lure presentations, a ball of cheesy Powerbait on a tiny treble hook will get you there. Lake Jennings is holding their trout season opener this weekend from Friday through Sunday. Dixon Lake will hold their season opener on Saturday the 20th after letting the November 16 trout plant of 3,000 pounds settle in for a few days.

Fishing with the kids does not have to break the bank; in California, children 15 or younger do not need a fishing license, though lake fees may apply. Surf fishing from the beaches or piers is free, and a half-day trip on a sportfishing vessel runs about $60 per head, though they often run specials for youth. If looking for some peace and quiet, or just for new activities for the kiddos, fishing is a wholesome outdoor activity that can prove educational opportunities that can stay with a person for life. Trust me. Get (the kids) out and get ‘em!

Fish Plants: 11/19 Santee Lakes, trout (2,000)

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