From Call of Duty to TikTok, kids nowadays have an over abundance of options keeping them inside, especially kids that are located in urban epicenters. Those of us that have got to experience the freedom and life outside of the city know there’s much more to be gained from the outdoors. Unfortunately, for many kids growing up in the busy citys of South Florida, access to the isolation of the Everglades or Florida bay is a very long drive and requires some type of watercraft. But what if I told you that there’s so much to experience and learn from our urban jungle? Just minutes from bumper to bumper traffic and Cuban coffee on every corner! Here’s our story of how we found a different kind of isolation in the middle of a busy city.
Im Damian Rodriguez, I own @millennium_martialarts . Through my martial arts school, I have personally seen the evolution of how kids socially interact and what they like to do with their free time. With that being said, I don't hear or see a lot of kids fishing anymore. Last week I received a text from a few of my young brown belts at the academy saying they wanted to fish. I was surprised and excited, knowing that these kids never get the chance to get outdoors to experience a different side of the city, I jumped in the Jeep, picked them up, and headed to JD Outdoor Adventures (check them out! Great people, Great Service!).
Tackle stores have always had a certain mysticism to them. When you're a kid and see all the bright colored lures hanging on the wall along with taxidermy and other weird relics you feel as if you stepped into a new world. Walking around JD, they were like kids in a candy store even asking how fur and feathers have anything to do with fishing? After explaining and entertaining their fascination, we bought five dozen shiners and we were on our way to our proving grounds.
Just over the concrete curb and through some palmetto fronds we made it to our first spot. The air was hot, humid and stagnant but it didn't matter. The kids jumped out, excited as I handed them each a pair of Smith polarized glasses. Polarized glasses are paramount to the success of spotting the cruising peacock bass. Rods were rigged and ready, medium/lights 6'6 and 7ft, 3000 series reels spooled with 15lb braid connected to 30lb Cortland fluorocarbon. Even though we were fishing the brackish canal systems, its not uncommon to encounter a big tarpon or snook in this area. Shortly after the first shiner hit the water, we were hooked up. With plenty of peacock pics to follow the kids were STOKED! With the sun disappearing and the clouds rolling in, we decided to look for moving water and try our luck at some freshy tarpon.
We packed up and headed down a dirt road to our next destination. Sure enough within minutes of arriving, we saw signs of tarpon. We spotted a school of floaters just sitting on top facing into the current. Ready to take on silver king lite, the boys ran back to the Jeep to grab their rods. Knowing the silver king was just one shiner away of being caught, excitement took over and the first shiner landed in the trees. We regained our composure and landed a perfect cast in front of the fish. The tarpon inhaled the shiner and we were tight! Hooked up to a baby tarpon, only to see the number two hook soar from its boney jaws as it lunged out of the water. After a quick lesson of how we need to bow to these fish, we were hooked up again. Cheesin for another pic, we quickly released the little poon safely to put a smile on someone else’s face in the future. The rest of the baby tarpon were still happy and undisturbed. Unfortunately, we had to move as a thunderstorm started building behind us. We checked the radar and moved away from the storms, eventually catching more peacocks some largemouth and even hooking a clown knife fish that came off at our feet.
The kids and I left our little oasis of life in
the middle of a concrete jungle. Pictures were taken, high fives were exchanged and fish stories were exaggerated. We all learned a lot from this trip, from the importance of a good pair of polarized glasses to the safe handling of our gamefish. At the end of the day, after all the sweat and slime are washed off, you’re left with the most important things. The memories and camaraderie with friends. It takes a lot of patience to take kids fishing, I enjoyed every minute of it and hopefully, I had an impact on each and everyone of them. Im sure they all discovered a new passion/hobby that day that they will never forget and will continue to build upon. These kids are the future custodians of our traditions and sport. Take the time to mentor and develop them properly so that our fisheries flourish and survive.
Special thanks to, Smith optics for the ability to create a visual that the kids will never forget.
Stay hooked fam