4 Great Catches for Kids

    By Terry Gibson

    With spring break around the corner, and lot of my friends hounding me to take them fishing during the vacation, let me point out some great action guaranteed to hook kids on fishing.

    On the Reefs

    Catching some of the smaller species of snapper including yellowtail, lane and gray (mangrove) snappers generally offers plenty of action and the diversity of species that you can catch on the reefs piques their curiosity. Lots of different grunts and wrasses will bite offerings of shrimp, squid and bonito strips as well. The vast coral reef system that runs along the windward side of the Keys up to Stuart, or thereabouts, is North America’s only living coral reef ecosystem. You can literally catch dozens of species and are virtually guaranteed a nice catch of various snappers and grunts for a delicious dinner. Cero and Spanish mackerel may do a fly-by as well. Options range from fishing off piers, jetties and bridges, to an inexpensive half- or full-day trip on a party boat, to hiring a charter boat. If you’re fishing on your own, you just need a few small hooks, weights heavy enough to hold bottom, and a bucket of shrimp.

    In the Lakes

    By March, especially in the southern half of the state, the shellcrackers begin nesting. They spawn by fanning out areas of the bottom. These “beds” as they are called are easy to see in the clear shallows. You will see them in numbers ranging from dozens to hundreds. Anglers catch these aggressive, tasty bream, along with other bream species such as the bluegill, using worms and crickets, or with flies, jigs and spinnerbaits. It’s great light tackle action. For a list of top lakes, click here.


    One of the adventures that brings out the kid in me is canoeing several of our sublime creeks and small rivers. This year, water levels remained fairly high so most should be easily navigable. You’ll find bass, bream and crappie in the deeper bends where structure such as cypress trees emerge from the water. Three of my favorites including the Loxahatchee River near Jupiter, Fisheating Creek, near Moore Haven, and Arbuckle Creek, near Sebring.


    If you’re staying with friends, or in a hotel or resort, odds are there’s a retention pond or park with a small lake in the area. These lakes are usually full of small bass and bluegills, which are perfect for entertaining kids. All you need is a bobber, small pinch weights and small hooks. Bread works fine for bait.