The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 12 - December 22, 2010

reel time

Take a kid fishing

From the December 15, 2010 Issue
Reel time

Bob Seeger holds the first fish ever caught by his grandson,
David Schulhofer. The team caught and released the
speckled trout in Anna Maria Sound.

'Take a kid fishing, because some day they might take you." I've always liked that saying, and the man that came up with it really walks his talk. Captain Jonnie Walker has been taking kids fishing, and encouraging others to, since he started guiding in Sarasota in 1974. He coined the phrase when he began a fishing spot on Channel 7 in 1994, one he still does.

This sentiment is also echoed by my friend Captain Rodney Smith, publisher of Coastal Angler Magazine, ( who also believes in the power of taking kids fishing. His organization, "Hook Kids on Fishing," has introduced thousands of children and their parents to fishing in the past 10 years. It's a theme that has also been a part of my life, probably as a result of my dad taking me fishing for the first time when I was 5 years old.

However, I didn't fully appreciated the influence that taking a kid fishing can have until I got a call from Bruce Beaver about four years ago. Beaver was growing up on Longboat Key during the time (1985-1995) we were running the Longboat Key Fishing Tournament. Bruce called to tell me he was coming to town and would like to go fishing again, if possible. I had taken him fishing a few times when he was about 15 years old, an experience he called one of the most memorable in his life. I was bowled over to say the least.

When my friend Bob Seeger ( called a week ago to ask if I would take his stepson, Adam, and grandson, David, out on the boat, I jumped at the chance. It was an opportunity to give David, just short of 4 years old, his first experience fishing.

Now to be fair, 4 is a few years young for kids to take full advantage of a fishing trip. At that age a child's attention span is short and he/she is often just as interested in playing in the bait well, or getting a chance to "drive" the boat as to fish.

Having said that, I'm fully aware that an experience like this can set the stage for a lifetime of excitement on the water. As luck would have it my "can't miss spot" was less than productive and being sensitive to David's mood, I chose to move around rather than spend too much time at one spot.

I made sure David got to drive the boat, with some assistance from me. The look of excitement and joy on his face was a great reward for me, and I had a blast spending time with him as his grandfather and father concentrated on fishing.

At the second stop in Anna Maria Sound, we found action with trout and ladyfish, and although David wasn't quite able to hold the rod or manage reeling a fish in alone, we helped him do both while catching his first fish, a speckled trout.

Kid is a relative term, and I'm sure that an outside observer would have seen four kids in the boat that day, as I certainly felt like one. When Seeger showed up with a gift for taking them out, I felt guilty accepting it. I told him I was the one that received the biggest benefit. The truth is taking a kid fishing is definitely a win/win situation. The fact that you might be creating an experience that lasts a lifetime is priceless. The next time you go fishing consider taking a kid. One day they might just take you.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper