Things to Know about Fishing with Kids in Southwest Florida

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Are you heading out for a fishing adventure with the kids for the first time in Southwest Florida? Wondering what to pack? We know the struggle is real, folks. Your first-timers might be stressing but rest assured that we are here to make your fishing experience easy. Fishing with kids can be an enjoyable experience for the whole family as long as you are prepared.

Here is everything you need to know about fishing with kids in Southwest Florida. We will cover it all from tackle boxes to snacks, fishing licenses to “keepers.” So let’s ease your mind on this seemingly daunting task! Below are a few tips to help you get through the day successfully.


How Do I Introduce My Kids to Fishing

How Do I Introduce My Kids to Fishing?

Toddlers as young as two can learn to fish with proper guidance. If the hook is baited correctly, the fish will bite no matter who casts the line. Just like anything in life, training a future pro takes time. Don’t expect your little ones to sit for hours on their first few ventures. Start small with a walk along the shoreline at low tide and introduce them to the water world first by spotting fish and learning different species a couple at a time. Gain their interest and don’t overwhelm them with a plethora of angler speak all in one day. While at home, keep their excitement alive with children’s books about fish, showing them your fishing gear, or even buying them a pet fish they can care for themselves.


16 Things to Pack for a Day of Fishing in Southwest Florida

Packing for a day of fishing on the boat with kids should be well thought out and organized ahead of time. Like any trip with them, a lot is required, and a day outdoors in Southwest Florida. So here’s a good start on what not to forget and some helpful tips. But you know your little one best, so use your best judgment, and remember, have a blast and enjoy the experience, so they want to go time and time again!

  1. Sunscreen… Plenty of sunscreen is needed here in the Florida sun. You should apply fifteen minutes before entering the water and again every two hours, if not more.
  2. Crocs or water shoes are best for not slipping off instead of a pair of flip flops. The sand can be scorching and the boat deck slippery at times, so it’s always good to have something with a good grip on your feet.
  3. If ‘you’re going out on one of Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina’s boat rentals, life jackets are required for every man on board and must be worn at the age of six or younger while in motion. But, don’t worry, they’ll ensure you have everything you need on their boats!
  4. Pack yourselves a few Zip-Loc baggies to keep your personal belongings dry as well.
  5. Water, iced tea, lemonade, juice boxes, and those beverages with electrolytes such as Gatorade, Powerade, and Pedialyte are great thirst quenchers while in the sun.
  6. SubSafes come in handy at the beach and on the water. They come in both a six-inch and twelve-inch size and will keep your sub sandwich waterproof in the cooler until lunch or dinner time.
  7. Snacks are crucial no matter what you’re doing with your young anglers. Cheese sticks, chips, granola bars, crackers, and nuts are easy to tote for the day. Publix even sells the Balanced Break snack packs, including cheese, nuts, raisins, or cranberries. But, of course, a good ol’ Lunchable always takes the win with tikes too. Just be sure to keep everything in a tightly sealed cooler and out of the sun to avoid melty messes or an invitation for bugs.
  8. Aside from live bait, let the kiddos try out some other options. You can even use bread or chicken liver from the house.
  9. In their tackle box, you should include floating bobbers, lures (let them pick out their favorites at the store to get them excited), leaders, sinkers, extra fishing line, varied sizes of hooks, and a tape measure. Needle-nose pliers will come in handy pliers when you have to unhook that fish they got stuck hook, line and sinker.
  10. The easiest pole, to begin with, is the cane pole without a reel. So your child can get a feel for throwing a cast first without all the extra effort. From there, many places sell children-sized fishing poles decorated with their favorite characters with a button-operated reel for convenience.
  11. Grab a couple of outdoor chairs so your child and you have a comfy spot to sit while you wait for a bite.
  12. Sunglasses, hats and long-sleeved quick-drying shirts will save you a lot of hassle from catching a sunburn!
  13. A first-aid kit is convenient to have no matter what age, especially when fishing with kids. Of course, we can’t predict accidents, but we can surely help and keep the adventure going afterward.
  14. What would life be like without your cell phone? It could make for a lousy day in case an emergency occurs. We’re going to need that for GPS too. Oh, and all the fantastic photos of your kids when they catch a “big one”!
  15. Of course, we always need a good clean towel for everyone when near the water.
  16. It never hurts to have some rain gear because we have an unpredictable rainy season here in Southwest Florida.


How Do I Keep My Toddler Occupied While Fishing


How Do I Keep My Toddler Occupied While Fishing?

Keep it simple and be patient. It’s all about spending that quality time together. Don’t worry about the size of the fish. Start with something small and easy to catch, such as the sunfish, bass, and catfish. Also, keep in mind that live bait is easier than lures. The easiest would be the worm. Try not to encourage the icky idea of baiting live shrimp, worms, crickets, or small fish and let them do it themselves, so they get comfortable with the whole process and look forward to many more fishing trips. Once you have experienced a few fishing trips with your kids, slowly increase the length of future outings.


Can Kids Keep Fish When Fishing?

They sure can! Catching our first fish is a memory that will stick around forever. Teach kids early on how to measure their fish, size limits, and the amount of fish they can keep in one day, depending on the species. Let’s also show them how to care for the fish, whether releasing or keeping them.


Does a Kid Need a Fishing License?

Kids up to fifteen are not required to have a fishing license. However, Florida residents between sixteen and sixty-five, as well as all non-residents over the age of sixteen (who aren’t exempt), must have a Florida fishing license whether you’re keeping your catches or not. Exemptions include all children under age 16, resident disabled persons who meet specific qualifications, and all anglers who fish from a licensed pier.  Annual freshwater and saltwater fishing licenses are $17 each for a resident.  Non-residents must purchase a 3-day, 7-day, or yearly non-resident fishing license when in Florida unless covered by a charter or per license. You can buy permits at Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, sporting goods stores, or retailers selling hunting or fishing supplies by phone at 888-FISH-Florida (347-4356) and Florida tax collector offices.

Does a Kid Need a Fishing License


When is the Best Time to Go Fishing?

According to Visit Florida, the best time to go fishing is at dawn or dusk and right before a storm front passes. Although, each species of fish breeds at different times of the year according to water temperature and lunar phases. You’re bound to catch something any time you can get out with the kids, and you’ll learn the sweet spots as you venture out and explore.


Can Kids Fish in the Ocean?

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says, “Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World.” So, of course, you can learn to fish in the ocean! Southwest Florida is full of Gulf shorelines leading to the sea. What better way to enjoy the area and all its beautiful glory?! 


Is Deep Sea Fishing Safe for Kids?

The word around town is that using a fishing charter is the best route to go for deep-sea fishing as the waters can be very unpredictable, especially when you’re not familiar with the area. Plus, it’s an excellent adventure for the entire family! Your kids will love the experience on the open water, learning even more about fishing. I wouldn’t start here unless you think your child will love it. Like we discussed earlier, start small, then enjoy the things to look forward to together. But it is just as safe as fishing on land and enjoyable! You’re likely to spot some new species out into the deep waters, so keep on reading those fish picture books with them so they can learn what to expect and build the excitement.

Is Deep Sea Fishing Safe for Kids


Enjoy a Fishing Charter with Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina

You’re in luck because our very own Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina offers just that! With many options to choose from for beginner to young pro anglers, including a back bay and nearshore trip, tarpon fishing, or, if your babes are daring, they even offer a shark fishing charter. They also have unique add-ons to include shelling on our world-renowned beaches and/or lunch at a small, quaint island just past Captiva Island called Cabbage Key. If you do the lunch stop, be sure to try their famous Cheeseburger in Paradise – it’s delicious! Check out all your charter fishing options at Royal Shell Port Sanibel Marina. Be sure to make your reservations ahead of time to avoid the last-minute hassle so you can ensure a stress-free day fishing with kids in Southwest Florida!