Posted by: socalsalty | December 11, 2010

Kid Friendly Fishing

My dad with Jake this last September at my 'home dock' the Redondo Beach Pier (not the one in SoCal, but the one on Puget Sound in Washington State)

As I mentioned in my opening post (Introducing SoCalSalty), I’ve been going out on sportboats since I was 10.  I remember after coming home that day with our 2 fish (my 26 lb. silver salmon, and my dad’s flounder…it was a big flounder ;-)), my dad told my mom, “It would’ve been cheaper to just go to the store and buy the fish.”  Fast forward to today, I took my 10 year old son Jake out on a sportboat for the first time earlier this year.  Afterward, I called my dad (still living with my mom off the south end of Puget Sound, in the house I grew up in) to tell him about the trip.  I reminded my dad of the comment he made to my mom, and told him, “I guess the real value of that trip was that I remembered it after all these years, and now I have the privilege of doing the same thing with my son.”  Salty’s dad is a real softy anyway, but boy, I sure got him with that one!

So I really take it to heart to pass this love on to kids.  Not just my own, but to go out of my way when I encounter kids as I go out on trips.  Some of my most cherished memories over the years have involved fishing, and I want to pass that along.  It’s also vital to the sport that the next generation develop this same love, it’s what keeps the industry moving.  More importantly though, these same kids will want to protect our marine resources for future generations to enjoy.

Jake and I aboard the Clemente out of Dana Wharf...a kid friendly boat

So what constitutes Kid Friendly Fishing? Start with patience.  Kids will get tangled.  Kids will get bored.  Kids will get hungry, thirsty, need to go to the bathroom etc. etc.  And inevitably, it will happen when you’ve got a bite on.   Just remember that the kid is your first priority.  Their safety and enjoyment = your long term happiness of developing a fishing buddy for life!  And if you can get a kid on a bite, they’ll get “it” and want to replicate that experience, so be patient.

What should a parent look for on a boat to ensure it’s kid friendly?  Number one, is the boat safe?  Does it have all the proper safety equipment?  Does the captain do a safety orientation at the beginning of each trip?  Does it have clean restroom and eating facilities?  Is there a good high rail around the entire perimeter of the boat?  Is the crew friendly and patient?  Is there a place for a kid to hang out to get out of the elements or just get out of the way of the other anglers if they’re not into fishing?  Ideally, you want to scope these things out BEFORE you take out your kid.  At the least, look for these things before you leave the dock and bail if it doesn’t pass muster.  It’s also a good idea to take your kid out fishing off the dock before you commit to a boat trip.  Let them practice some of the essential skills in a low pressure scenario before they get out on a boat…the proper way to cast (look behind you before you let it rip), baiting a hook, using your thumb on the reel (conventional) to prevent a birdnest etc.  Diligence to these things upfront, help ensure a fun trip for the both of you later.

What should I bring on the boat?  Here are some essential items that every angler should have, but more so if you’re with a kid.

  • hats with a brim – the sun is more intense on the water and you’re spending more time exposed to it
  • sunscreen & lip balm- make sure you get your neck and ears and use lip balm that has SPF protection
  • sunglasses – the sun reflects off the water and you need to protect your eyes
  • water – can be found in the galley normally, but bring some of your own just in case
  • extra tackle – kids tangle up, lose tackle etc.  make sure you have extra
  • camera – you’ll want to make sure you’re ready when they land their first fish
  • handtowels – bait and fish can be messy
  • bandaids and first aid ointment – little nicks and scrapes happen, better to be prepared

Here are some kid friendly boats here in So Cal.  I’m certain there are others and there are probably tips I’ve missed above.  Please leave a comment or write me at and I’ll post them here later.  Number one tip though, Have Fun!

MDR Sportfishing: Kids are $10 off adult fare.  Captain Jeremy on the Spitfire has a 3 year old son, and does a great job with kids

Dana Wharf: They do an orientation at the dock at noon every Sunday for kids and their parents.  Then the 12:45 half day boat departs and kids fish free!

Channel Islands Sportfishing: Haven’t checked this one out yet, but their half day trip on the Pacific Islander from 8am-4pm looks like a good bet for kids



  1. There is a cool ” Waterman ” trip available out here that lets kids set crab traps , drag nets for shrimp and catch fish. If you’re ever out this way , I highly recommend it!

  2. I got chills my friend, when I scrolled down the page after seeing the pic of you and your dad, only to be followed by a pic of you and your son doing the same. Love it!!!

    • Daniel, the first pic is my dad and Jake (my son) and the second pic is me and Jake. But I get you. It’s funny, my folks were recently visiting SoCal from Seattle, and I got the revelation that my dad doesn’t even like fishing! He just knew that I enjoyed it. Makes me that much more appreciative of all those times that he patiently untangled my birdnests and retied my hooks. I wish I had half that patience.

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