It’s All about the Kids – July 17, 2009

How can the same guy that his idea of advice is “What do you want to do” go from “Do this;” “Do that;” “Why’re you doing it that way;” to “It’s all about the kids?”  I think I have the simple answer: grandkids.  Yeah, I’m talking about Mr. Conservative, way right of right, Captain Bruce Shuler.  The lesson started over the Fourth of July weekend.
My niece, Paige, and two friends were down on the dock with their Snoopy rods and dead shrimp catching piggy-perch.  Suddenly, in the pitch only 9-year-old girls can reach, screams for dad or me pierced the relaxing Fourth festivities. 
“Aww, they got a crab or something,” dad said.
A patter of footsteps and the breathless rhetoric only a drunk sorority girl or 9-year-old can produce Kenzie started panting, yelling, pointing, and stuttering: “Paige…fish…silver…jumping…help.”
Fairly well into a bottle of Don Julio, we suantered down to the dock to see what was going on.  Paige had a twist of monofilament in her hand and a wide-eyed “what the hell” look on her face.
“Bubba, (family name…don’t start calling me it) I have a tarpon.”
The Snoopy Reel’s drag was fried.  I grabbed the line, still in disbelief mind you, and gave it a tug.  Okay, I thought, that’s a big piggy perch.  Like all tarpon though, the line started running and came to the surface and the fish jumped. 
“Holy crap Paige, it is a tarpon.”
Handlining a 4-foot, 40 to 50 pound tarpon, is not a task I recommend.  The line cuts are still fresh.
We got the fish in, got the quick pictures, and I jumped in to revive the fish, which after dealing with three 9-year-olds looked a little deflated.  It took me the best part of ten minutes swimming him around, but he eventually got tired of me and took off.
Paige now holds the record for the youngest lodge tarpon catch.  Check out the pictures on our photo section.
That was lesson one watching dad handle Paige and the tarpon. 
Second lesson is what he is doing with Jeff Dean of [url=,6398.0.html][/url].  The two are doing a kids only tournament to get kids interested in the outdoors.  Tons of great gifts and doorprizes.  Not to mention, I think mom is making her famous brisket one night and dogs and burgers the next.  Check out [url=,6398.0.html][/url] for more information.
Now for big boy fishing:  Trout and reds are still excellent.  Reds are shallow and taking small topwaters, Zara Puppies or Spook Juniors, and spoons.  With all the boat traffic, killing our bay by the way, there is a ton of floating grass.  I’ve moved all my topwaters to single circle hooks.  Hook-ups are the same but require a little practice.
The trout are holding in mid-stomach to chest deep on grass.  If you see a sand pocket run the edge and get ready.  Number are still strong with everyone getting limits.  Still solid fish in the 18 to 22 class.  On my boat, that’s the slot we’re shooting for: releasing everything over and under.  And yes, we are still catching a lot of upper-20 inch fish.
Off shore is pumping with all the jacks, tarpon, kings, sharks, bonito, smacs, or myriad of other species you can want.  Just ask for it.  Shrimp season opened yesterday, so expect a lot of toothy pictures to start showing on the website.
Until then, take a kid fishing and get ready for an incredible fall and winter.