Let’s be honest, successful fishing with lures can be difficult at the best of times without the added complexity of young children in the equation. It’s for this reason that I have been using a loaf of bread, small hooks and floats while fishing with my kids over the last 12 months or so. It keeps things simple and visual for them. At a young age, their minds and interest wanders, so being able to burley (feed) the fish and see the bites has to be a key factor in keeping them interested and engaged for the short fishing sessions we have.
Now that they are growing a little older and are more familiar with the concept and environment, I thought it was time to introduce them to another level of fishing. Fishing with bread, floats and a burley trail can be fairly limited to weather and tide conditions. Too much wind or current and a lot of the effort is either blown or swept away. On top of that, my 4 year old seems ready for the challenge of fish that are a little bit bigger than the ones we catch in our regular haunts, they are now also capable of longer sessions and are super keen to get out in the boat more often.
So what’s next? To continue their fishing education I have introduced them to gathering fresh bait that we can use either land based or on the boat. This is something that I did in my teenage years that was always a heap of fun: collecting Nippers from the expansive tidal sand flats that exist on a lot of our waterways. This plan had several desired outcomes; firstly it would allow them to hopefully enjoy and begin to understand the concept of how the fish may move up with the tide to feed, teach them a little bit about the ecosystem and then hopefully reap some rewards for their efforts through the catching of fish. It also gives them wide open spaces and an ample selection of activities to stretch their legs, occupy their minds and enjoy themselves splashing in the water, kicking a ball or casting a line while the entertainment of live nippers will hopefully mean more successful and engaging outings in the boat.
Sunday was forecast to be a perfect day to launch the boat. Sunny, not too hot and the last day of my annual leave. On Saturday, when asked the question of “Who wants to go fishing in the boat?”, the response was a resounding “Meeeeeee!”. Unfortunately though the tides were completely wrong for us to pump nippers (or “Snippys” as my kids like to call them) on the flats before going for a fish like we were able to on our recent trip down to the beautiful south coast of NSW. A decision was made and the family were unanimous, it was best for Dad to go pump Snippys while the rest of the family slept peacefully. Armed with my headlamp, pump, bucket and sieve, that’s just what I did. Arriving before first light, I made my way onto the beach and got to work. An hour or so later I was on my way home to my sleeping family with my legs resembling a serious outbreak of hives from the attack of mosquito and sand fly bites. All I was thinking while trying not to scratch my skin away was “these nippers better catch some fish today”. Breakfast done, boat packed, sister in-law arrived, we hit the water at a respectable time of 10:00am, apparently it wasn’t just us that wanted to get out to enjoy the beautiful weather as we had to park the car and trailer a good 500m and two streets away from the boat ramp car park. First order of business, drop a couple of witches hats hoping for a Blue Swimmer Crab or two, then off to find a patch of water that offered protection from the wind and the mass of other boaters enjoying the water and warm weather.
One of the great things about freshly caught local bait is they seem to catch fish and these Snippys were no different. No sooner did we get the first bait out, we had the first of many fish coming over the side of the boat. Bream, Whiting, Tarwhine and Flathead were all part of our mixed bag, but the highlights of our haul was definitely the Blue Swimmer we pulled up at the end of the day and the first fish my sister in-law recalls catching in an extremely long time.
It’s funny how things change. Apart from a squid jig and a few minnows for trout, I’m not sure that I have thrown too many lures this year. I have however, collected and used more bait than I have in the last 10 years and had just as much fun if not more, watching my family turn the reels and retrieve the fish. Success can almost be measured by the smile on faces and the added bonus is that I don’t have many objections when suggesting we spend the day on the water.