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Schlichter: Some tips when fishing with the kids

Bob Hurd of Smithtown gives his grandson, Ryan

Bob Hurd of Smithtown gives his grandson, Ryan Mecca, 8, of Setauket, a few fishing tips, Saturday, at the Spring Family Fishing Festival at Belmont Lake State Park in Babylon. (April 9, 2011) Credit: John Dunn

With school soon to let out for the summer, you can bet many parents are looking forward to their kids’ first fishing trips. It’s a topic that requires more thought and preparation than some anglers realize, for an enjoyable initiation to the fishing game can result in a lifetime passion for the great outdoors.

One important point to keep in mind when fishing with youngsters is that they tend to have varied and limited attention spans. Thus, it is generally good to keep initial trips short and sweet. Also, to children, the day’s last impression can be more important than the first — so quit while you are ahead if things start out well. Leave the fish biting and your kids will ask for more.

As for what to target, avoid overpowering or elusive species in favor of fast-biting abundant quarry like porgies, bay fluke, snappers and freshwater panfish. The oft-maligned sea robin, for example, makes a great target. Adults may consider them bait-stealing pests but, from a kid’s perspective, they are plentiful, colorful and hungry. Sea robins have winglike fins, make loud croaking sounds, sport a gapping, toothless mouth and know how to bend a rod. Call them “dragon fish’’ and they suddenly take on a mysterious aura.

As for fishing instruction, given a hands-on demonstration, most kids can quickly figure out how to cast and retrieve any basic fishing setup. Still, it is a good idea to practice at the dock or in the yard before heading to the fishing grounds.

Of course, you’ll want to introduce the topic of conservation to your future fishing partners. Long before anyone places a bait in the water, explain that small fish — and any fish that isn’t going to be eaten — must be released. Kids get this point. For obvious reasons, always bait the hook and unhook the catch for the youngest in your crew.

Despite the best of intentions, there are bound to be days when the fish simply don’t cooperate.

When that happens, fish for a while before switching to another activity. Dig clams, go crabbing, catch frogs, collect driftwood, find sea shells, skip stones, swim in the shallows or play tag on the beach. The idea is to always keep it fun whether the fish bite or not. Realize this and you’ll understand what most kids already know: Catching something is always a bonus.

Heating up

Unsettled weather made it tough to get out some days this week, but there is still plenty of good action under way. Stripers have been hot at Port Washington, The Long Island Sound Middle Grounds, Orient Point, Montauk and under the bunker schools west of Jones Inlet.

Fluke action continues to build in 50-foot depths off the South Shore, inside Great South, Moriches and Shinnecock Bays, and at Huntington, Port Jefferson and Mattituck along the North Shore. Porgies are hitting, too, off just about any North Shore Point. Sands Point, Matinicock Point, Cranes Neck, Eaton’s Neck and Rocky Point have been the hot spots.

Blowfish catches have slowed at Shinnecock Canal, Robins Island and in Moriches Bay, perhaps because winter flounder season closed and anglers are now working different areas.


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