Inshore: Home Schooled Fishing - The Fisherman

Inshore: Home Schooled Fishing

Social distancing means learning to adapt, improvise & overcome. 

Many parents have joked about homeschooling their children over the years for any number of reasons. In a sense, now moms and dads of school-aged children have all been teaching at home through the recent crisis. Assignments are coming via google classroom, email, hardcopy packet pick-up and plenty of other, evolving means; and as the young people adjust, it’s important to realize their breaks shouldn’t be video game slop. Exercise, engaging activities and yes, fishing outings are the way to go. There truly may exist no better time to take them fishing.

My kids are waking up and we are trying to get them on the academics immediately. Our goal is to keep some semblance of a school day intact. This leaves the afternoon for fishing. With no sports or group gatherings, late afternoon and evenings are generally free.

While the Newhall boys can often be found fishing the salt
While the Newhall boys can often be found fishing the salt, with the world turned upside down this spring son Michael and dad Scott “self-quarantined” at a local lake in between home-schooling.

Often quick trips are the name of the game. Outings to the local ponds, even on foot or by bike, serve as excellent exercise. The open air and distance between folks as they walk the lake contours definitely fall in the “pro” column. The mental health gains in fishing are off-the-charts outstanding in the current stressed-out world. Fishing occupies the mind, relieves tension and combats anxiety. It gives kids a real outdoors experience when their extracurricular cases have gone poof for the time being.

Your local lakes may yield more largemouth bass by the day with pickerel in the piney areas as spring wears on. Bluegills will become fun and a nuisance all in the same, but they bite fast and provide the quickest action for kids needing to get out of the house. Trout, whether stocked or wild, are a freshwater option that can be attacked in short order. If your young scholars aren’t into the fly game, they can go ultra-light and use Berkley Gulp or Powerbait for action under a bobber. I’m talking 4-pound test kind of light.

The carp and catfish activity will continue to improve as well. A worm, chicken liver, or anything else stinky will draw the bottom dwellers in. It’s a great time for dads to teach their kids to dig for worms. In hard times, hot dog chunks put out the scent and get them on the line. Speaking of human food for bait. Bread can be smooshed into dough balls, corn can be saved from the dinner plate and any left over dinner meat will catch.

The beauty of lake fishing is that it can be accomplished at any time. If your kids wrap up the schoolwork early, then the opportunity exists. Finish academia a little later and want to eat dinner first? No problem. Eat up and then hit the local fishing hole.

Many of us live close to a river or tributary. Life often abounds in these waterways and shots at shad, smallmouth, perch and striped bass abound. The river banks have plenty of perches to toss a line. Boat outings can work on days where school wraps up early or on the weekend.

The saltwater continues to come alive as I type. Striped bass are coming up by boat and along the bayshore in the Raritan Bay, as fish seem to be on the move a little earlier this year.  As the daylight hours get longer, short boat outings will be more and more possible. Winter flounder have made a solid showing in some areas to the north this spring; if you’re able to grab some worms, clam or grass shrimp for an outing, try an hour or two at dawn before homeschooling begins.  The banks, bulkheads and bridges provide quick access.

Kids, if you are reading this and you stay three hours, just make sure you make up for it on the back end. Bluefish and weakfish will join the party soon and can be caught from the sods and jetties. What kind of showing they will make is anyone’s guess, but we’ll stay optimistic.  Once the fluke opens up – and hopefully the kids are in school by then, and this crisis is behind us – it will be time to break out the Gulp and minnows to target big, early season doormats and keepers. The sun will stay out late by the opener and give students plenty of time after assignments are completed. Bank or boat, a nice catch can be put together.

Of course, adults all need some stress relief as the anxiety and real-life pressures mount. Fishing alone, or with family, is a time to get lost in our minds, to escape to a familiar and sacred place.  Even state and federal officials have talked about the benefit of exercise and outdoor activities throughout this serious time; albeit, with plenty of distance from anyone other than immediate family. So stay healthy and go fishing – smartly. It will serve you well.

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