This year, there were a few weeks between the end of snapper season and the beginning of the amberjack season. While this meant some downtime for many of the areas charter boats and their captains, it was a great time to take the kids out for some fun. Out in the Gulf of Mexico, the mingo snapper, triggerfish, dolphin, wahoo and king mackerel are biting. Closer to shore, on the inlets of Choctawhatchee Bay, the catfish and pinfish are plentiful.
My six–year–old son LOVES to fish. He has the patience, the focus and overall sensibility to be a fine angler. Alex has spent some time deep sea fishing; he brings home some delicious grouper and a bunch of fish tales as well. His three–year–old sister, Harper, has always seemed to lack the desire and determination to go out with her dad and brother. This weekend, however, that all changed.
Harper took to fishing … well, like a fish to water. She was thrilled with her first catch and wanted to catch more. While fishing is a great way for parents and kids to spend some time together, there are other important life lessons to be learned as well.
Patience is a virtue. Sometimes catching your prize can take a while. Families spend so much time moving. We often run from one activity to the next, multitask, and try to accomplish as much as we can in the shortest amount of time possible. Fishing is a chance to really be present in the moment, and aware of your surroundings and the subtle changes in the environment, which will lead to a successful catch.
Bigger is not always better. When you’re three, it doesn’t matter whether you hook a huge grouper or a small pinfish, the thrill is the same and the sense of accomplishment is much bigger than the fish you hooked.
Princesses get dirty. Armed with her pink rod and reel, Harper was unafraid of touching the bait, holding the fish, or throwing it back into the water. It was a great opportunity to get her hands dirty.
Save some for the next person. Fish play an important part in the well-being of our waterways. Kids might be disappointed that they can’t keep everything they catch, but learning about sustainable oceans and responsible fishing will make them good stewards of the environment later.
Local is best. The local food movement is everywhere these days. From backyard gardens to farmer’s markets, we are getting the message that food grown close to home is better for everyone. This is true for fish as well. Catching, cleaning (with some help) and cooking the catch of the day will almost certainly ensure your child never asks for fish sticks again.
Real life is better than virtual. Getting out on the water with your kids provides memories that will last a lifetime. Harper is already asking when she can go deep-sea fishing and is fascinated with the photos and fishing reports coming in from the Destin Harbor. Harper (and all of us) learns and gets inspiration from photos, but there’s nothing like getting out in nature and experiencing it first-hand!
Photo by JosieA
Susan Jarvis Moody is a freelance writer, blogger, wife and mother of two. She lives in Destin Florida. For more information about Destin and the Emerald Coast, please log on to www.destin-fwb.com.