Blackfish (tautog), wreck fishing chartersStriped bass (stripers) charters, trolling and chunking Karen Ann II - New Jersey Charter Boat35' Custom Downeast Sportfisherman / New Jersey Charterboat Bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, chunking and trolling, inshore and canyonMako shark, offshore fishing
  Wrecks - Bottom - Trolling - Inshore - Offshore 23 April 2018
(Click to read)

Anyone Need A 5-Year Old Mate?

I had my first son, Jacob, on his first ocean fishing trip a day before his second birthday. Since then, I've had him on the boat regularly, but never for a full day with a paying party on board. Now five, I finally felt he was ready for a full day, and with the right gang, Saturday was going to be his first trip as my mate.

As usual, right out of bed at 5 am, dressed and ready to go by 5:15. I get him on the boat, and I don't even have to ask and he's putting people's bags inside the cabin. Off to the fishing grounds we go, I told him it wasn't a fishing trip for us, that he and I would have to work, so he dutifully took on the job of delivering bait to people around the boat and taking their fish from them and releasing them on the other side of the boat. The breeze came up a bit out of the Northeast at 12-13 knots making for a bit of chop (along with boats running around resetting their drifts), and the first couple of times the rocking danced him around he says, "Oh no no no, I do not think I am not liking this!" (Anyone else with little ones might recognize the Land Before Time Ducky character impersonation, at least I think that's who it was.) He soon had his sea legs about him pretty well, and it became a bit of a joke.

After a bit, and with a mostly self service gang on the boat, he had a chance to fish. He alternated between holding the rod and putting it in the rod holder, and he soon learned that "Rodney" was a pretty good fisherman. I told him what to watch for in the bounce of the rod, and it wasn't long before I heard, "Dad, I think we got one!" Sure enough, there's a flounder hanging on the rod. Well, this course of action repeated itself for the next couple of hours. He missed on a couple of calls, but more often than not, when he thought there was one on, there was. I was pretty darn impressed.

By late morning, he was pretty tuckered out, and wound up falling asleep in the helm seat during a move. I can't say I haven't wanted to do the same myself a number of times!

But when it was time to get back on deck, he was back at it. When it was finally quitting time, he didn't want to go. Not hard to see why.

Back at the dock, he was the first person off the boat. I asked what the hurry was and he responded he had to get on the dock first to help the people unload their gear. It was 4 o'clock by the time we were getting done cleaning up, and he was still like, "Ok, Dad, what can I help with next?" I wish I could just plug in to him and get some of that energy! He was pretty proud that he knew when he had that 20"+ fish on the line.

One thing he definitely learned on the boat is that the food is often pretty darn good, and usually more than enough to go around. Potato chips, cheese puffs, chex mix, sandwiches, drinks, grapes, he thought this was a pretty good deal.

The final chapter of the story wasn't written until we got home to the dinner table. When he sits down to eat, he tells me it's hard to eat because he's rocking back and forth! It's been a long time since I've had that feeling, but brought back fond memories of my own earliest fishing experiences.

Well, if you want to put him to work, you might have to fight me for him for a bit. Besides, I still need him to continue training his younger brother.

Thanks for reading, and get the little ones out there. They are the future.
  Local Forecast
  Marine Forecasts
  Tropical Weather
  NDBC Marine Data
  Stevens CMN
  Rutgers COOL Data
  Local Tide Chart

  NJ State Regs
  Federal CFR
  HMS Permits/Info

  NOAA Fisheries

  NMFS Northeast
    Regional Office

  Atlantic States MFC
  Mid-Atlantic FMC