Although Cocoa Beach may be most famous for the sand, surf and space shuttle, it is a great place to break out the rod and reel and try your luck fishing. And this is especially true for families looking for a good way to spend the day in the Sunshine State. Most kids will love to fish, even if they’ve never done so before; you just need to introduce them to the sport in a way that suits their age, size and attention span.
Try to incorporate the following tips to get the most out of your day fishing with the kids:
- Pick a kid-friendly location to fish. While there are a number of charter services in the Cocoa Beach area ready to take you into deep water in search of sharks, marlins, grouper and other gigantic game fish, most offshore fishing trips will be a little too long for youngsters to enjoy. Instead, you’ll want to fish from the surf or the Cocoa Beach Pier.
Your kids will have a chance to catch a wide variety of species from either the shore or the pier, including flounder, bluefish, redfish, snapper, sea trout and jacks. If you head out to the very end of the pier, you may even have a chance to catch a barracuda.
- Use equipment that suits your kids’ size and skill level. It may be entertaining to watch your 8-year-old try to wield a 9-foot-long rod, but smaller rods are much more likely to result in caught fish. This is especially true when fishing from the pier, where conditions can be a little cramped. You can rent rods and reels from the pier’s bait shop, but if you bring your own, be sure to select a rod no longer than about 6 or 7 feet, so your child can control it.
- Select a good bait for the occasion. Many adults and serious anglers prefer to use lures to catch fish, but kids will often struggle to use lures (particularly those with treble hooks) without snagging them on the bottom or the pilings near the pier. Instead, you’ll want to use a simple live bait rig, consisting of a sinker, a bit of leader and a sharp hook. Then, bait the hook with either cut fish, shrimp, mullet or clams, which are all available at the pier’s bait shop.
- Dress and prepare your kids for the weather. Comfort is important while fishing, as it will allow you and your kids to devote your attention to detecting bites, rather than trying to cope with the sun. Lightweight clothing is necessary during most parts of the year (winters can be a bit chilly), and you’ll want to ensure you lather the kids up with a good sunscreen too. Hats and sunglasses can also provide a little protection, so they are a good idea too.
- Stay on the right side of the law. You’ll always want to obey local fishing rules and regulations when introducing your kids to the sport; otherwise, their first experience fishing may end with mom or dad getting a citation from a local wildlife officer. Children under 16 do not need a fishing license, but you will (although you can fish on most piers without needing a license).
The state offers a number of different fishing license options for non-resident adults, including 3- and 7-day licenses as well as those that last all year. You’ll also want to be sure to review the state’s regulations, size and creel limits before heading out to the water.
If you’d like to learn more about teaching your kids to fish, check out Outdoor Empire’s comprehensive review of the subject. You’ll not only learn about the best equipment, baits and locations for catching fish, but you also learn some great tips for keeping your kids comfortable while trying to catch a few fish.