BLOG: Kids & beach fishing

LIKE much of the east coast of Australia, the NSW south coast experienced some pretty solid rainfall over the past summer and autumn, with places like Narooma and Batemans Bay receiving really significant falls in March that were way above average. These falls put more than a nice flush through the local estuaries, opening up to the sea some that had been closed for a long time. The beach fishing has stayed solid, however, and with this in mind, my brother Paul and I had organised to take our eldest kids for an overnight camping/beach fishing trip.

For my son Connor, aged seven, and Paul’s son Jack, aged six, it was to be the first time they’d been camping, and Jack’s first beach fishing trip. The idea of sitting around an open fire and sleeping in a tent, coupled with the promise of some fishing action on tailor and salmon, had their levels of anticipation spiking to a level where you might have thought they’d knocked down a couple of litres of red cordial. By the time we pulled into the campsite and checked out the beach, they were rearing to go. After setting up the camp and cooking up an early dinner of sausage sandwiches, we armed ourselves with fishing gear, a footy, a soccer ball, and a couple of buckets and spades, and headed for the surf.

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Long 12′ rods and 4oz star sinkers are standard equipment for our style of beach fishing, but it’s not exactly kid-friendly gear. We’ve found the best way to go is to set the kids up with some boundaries on the beach that they have to stay within, let them run around on the sand, roll down sand dunes, and generally spend their time doing things that most kids love to do at the beach, while the adults do the casting and hooking of the fish. Once a fish is on, we just give a shout to the kids and they run over and do the “catching”.

After sorting out Jack and Connor, Paul and I set ourselves up to fish a reasonable looking gutter adjacent to a recently opened lake, with Paul getting the first cast away. My bait had barely hit the water before Paul was hooked up, and as the boys came running over to wind the fish in, I retrieved my gear to grab a few pictures. Jack handled the rod with some assistance from Paul, some excited shouts as the fish jumped in the surf, and before too long Jack had landed his first salmon – brilliant smiles all round! I went to put the camera away, the boys went back to playing,and Paul hooked up again almost straight away. More excitement from the boys, another salmon landed, and more smiles.

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This was pretty much the pattern of our evening session, with a mixture of tailor and salmon taking the baits on a regular basis (although more often Paul’s than mine); the boys played footy, dug holes in the sand, and landed somewhere around 20 or so fish ranging from 0.5kg up to 2.5kg between them – it was a couple of tired but very happy boys that returned to camp that night to sit around the fire and tell a few tall stories before retiring to their sleeping bags.

Morning came quickly, and we headed back to the beach for another session. It was a repeat of the previous evening, with plenty of tailor and salmon on the job and two very happy, excited kids. We returned to camp for a breakfast of bacon, sausages and baked beans under a beautiful eucalypt canopy backed by cloudless sky. We’d kept a few fish, released many more,and the boys had had a fabulous time. As a parent, it had been one of those weekends where all the pieces had fallen perfectly into place, and it’ll be a weekend that the four us will remember and reminisce on for a very long time.

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Take your kids for a beach fish, it’s highly recommended!

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