By Terry Gibson

When kids need something fun and productive to do, why don’t you get them hooked on fishing?

Here are three suggestions they’ll love:

Panfish Party

Bluegills and other delicious panfish spawn throughout the state around the new and full moons. The spawn lasts through July and into August, especially in the northern half of the state. Meanwhile, the bass are schooled up and feeding voraciously on the surface early in the morning and late in the evening. Panfish fishing is often better once the sun is up, when you can see the golden “beds” that these fish sweep out of the bottom for nests. It’s fun fishing for all ages and skill levels. There isn’t a better way to introduce a kid to flyfishing. The ultralight tackle best for schoolie bass and panfish is perfectly sized for a young angler’s hands. And you can always catch a mess with a simple cane pole, bobber and cricket. Check out these top lakes for panfish. They’re full of bass, too.

Tip: Find the panfish and you’ll find the bass. Bass love to feed on small bluegills and shellcrackers. That’s life in the foodweb.


Yellowtail snappers are beautiful, delicious, hard-fighting fish that occur mostly in the Keys and in Southeast Florida, but migrate northward along both coasts as the water warms in spring. One inexpensive way to get on the bite is to hop on a party boat out of destinations such as Key West, Key Largo or Jupiter.

Tip: You can catch yellowtails throughout the water column. Dropping a bait clear to the bottom will get you a yellowtail, or more likely another species of snapper, grunt or even a grouper. But yellowtails tend to swim above the reef and right to the surface into a chum slick. You’ll get the hang of drifting baits back into the chum click with a natural presentation quickly enough.

Beach Fishing

All around the state, “saltwater panfish” including whiting and croakers move right into the beach. These are easily caught on surf rigs tipped with pieces of shrimp or squid. Even easier, just tip a jig with a piece of shrimp. Nothing like fishing and bringing home the goods for a fish fry to make a great day at the beach.

Tip: Snook move out along the beaches of from Satellite Beach southward, along the Atlantic Coast, and from St. Petersburg southward on the Gulf Coast. It takes a cunning angler to fool these cunning fish. Fly anglers blind cast early and late. But the most exciting action comes in the middle of the day on calm days when you can sightfish. Top beaches include Sanibel, Hobe Sound and Lake Worth.  

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