By Captain Greg Rapp
Keep fishing fun by keeping it simple!
With all the water we have here locally, the fishing opportunities are endless and the key to enjoying all of it is not to suck the fun out of fishing by making it complicated. Literally in our backyard, we have the beautiful Atlantic Ocean with miles of coastline, inlets, piers, rivers, lagoons, creeks, canals, ditches, springs, lakes, estuaries, marinas, retention ponds and more. All of these bodies of water are loaded with fish so it really doesn’t take much effort at all to access great fishing.
Charter captains, commercial fisherman, gear reps, tv fishing personalities, fishing radio host, magazine writers, tournament fisherman, fishing forums, fishing bloggers or famous fishing youtubers. All of us in the industry make a big fuss about how to rig this special way or we have to have this special gear or you have to use this certain bait, you need to be super stealthy or know the secret spots. Yes all this can apply but the honest truth is some of the greatest fish to ever be caught was by some kid at a park BBQ that decided to put a chunk of hot dog on for bait and toss it into the lake or someone on vacation that rented a rod from the tackle store and threw a pre-made rig with a chunk of squid into the surf.
My advice to easy fun fishing is not to get hung up on expectations of always catching a giant or taking home dinner. Go somewhere easy to access and focus on enjoying the outdoors with family and friends, catching fish is a bonus. Let the exploration of finding neat out of the way areas be the biggest part of the adventure but don’t underestimate the cool fish that can be caught in the closet body of water to wherever you are. If you don’t know what gear you need, go to a local bait & tackle store and talk to them. Most are very knowledgeable and give great advice on locations and they won’t oversell you with more stuff than you need. Sunrise Fish, Dive & Surf in Port Canaveral, The Fish & Dive Center in Cocoa Beach & Handler Fishing Supply in Merritt Island are all great places to gear up.
When fishing with small kids, I would have to say surf fishing the beach is one of the best introductions to fishing you can do. They can play in the sand and water while tossing out a line and leaving it in a rod holder. When it gets a fish, they help real it in. No patience is required because they have a pile of different things they can do while waiting for a fish. Just make sure you pick a nice day with calm waves. Many great introductions to fishing for kids start at a local park with a Spiderman or Wonder Woman push button reel and a piece of bread if by freshwater or a dead shrimp if by saltwater. You can also find fantastic kid-friendly guides that offer trips that cater to families with young kids. All Water Adventures has 2 hour to 5 hour pontoon boat fishing adventures that is the perfect introduction to fishing and all you need to bring is something to snack on and drink.
The next step in your fishing adventures is to take a trip with professionals. No matter what kind of fishing you are into, saltwater, freshwater, inshore or offshore, it is easy to find a professional to take you to do it. For saltwater most people find what is known as party boat fishing to be the next most affordable and easy step to further explore fishing. You pay a ticket price for the day and everything is provided, all you have to do is show up. The Ocean Obsession in Port Canaveral is a well-known party fishing boat with a great reputation. Just make sure you try to go during off season if you don’t like crowds. During Spring, Summer & Winter Break it can be elbow to elbow fishing. You also want to make sure you inquire about sea conditions your first time out and only go on a day with calm seas. You can also look into private charter fishing. This is quite a bit pricier than the party boat option, but does provide you with the very best chance at catching fish. Most of the freshwater guides are based out of Orlando, so you need to do a little more digging if that is your preferred flavor. After all this is the Beachside Resident. 😉
The last step of keeping fishing fun and by far the very hardest is to keep it simple. You can purchase your own boat or fishing kayak. That being said if you remember the very first bit of advice I gave you “don’t get hung up on expectations and just enjoy your time outdoors with your friends and family” then the purchase of your own personal watercraft can be one of the most enjoyable and worthwhile purchases of your life.
Get outdoors folks and enjoy the fishing in your own backyard.