Fish Post

Tidelines – July 5, 2018

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It’s easy to get excited about taking kids away from cell phones, iPods, and Fortnite, and getting them out on the water for a day of fishing. Thanks to Intracaostal Angler, that’s exactly what happened for approximately 20 kids on June 25 for Fisherman’s Post’s second annual Intracoastal Angler Kids Day on the Vonda Kay.

Intracoastal Angler’s sponsorship makes the trip affordable for parents and kids to enjoy a half day of bottom fishing, and Capt. Dave Gardner, of the head boat “Vonda Kay,” makes the trip possible by reserving the boat for a private party, kid-friendly trip to catch stringers of sea bass, grunts, ringtails, and the other assorted species that are always possible whenever you’re bottom fishing.

Jacon and Joseph McPherson (ages 10), Debbie Mcpherson-Salling, and David Salling with a stringer of grunts, including the 16.5″ grunt that was the Big Fish winner of the trip. They were fishing on the 2018 Intracoastal Angler’s Kids Day on the Vonda Kay.

This year’s trip began as last year’s, with most of the kids gathering at the bow of the boat while we headed away from the docks at Motts Seafood, down the ICW, and then out through the rock jetties of Masonboro Inlet. Porpoises greeted us as we made it past the sea buoy, adding to the good energy already onboard as kids and parents alike were excited to see what action would enfold when we reached our destination, a spot of live bottom about 10 miles off of Wrightsville.

Just as it is for adults on any head boat trip, the kids, too, were made up of various skill levels and experience. As we got on anchor and made our first drops, some kids had the process already down, the thumb-on-the-spool-while-dropping-down a two-hook rig baited with squid. Others kids (and parents) didn’t want to touch bait and/or they struggled a little with knotted spools from letting the weight drop without the necessary resistance.

Experience didn’t matter much, though, as just about everyone caught fish, and the steady action of catching fish is the best ingredient when it comes to a successful kids’ fishing trip.

Sure, most of the sea bass were short, but not all of them. Grunts (or the euphemistic gray snappers) were the main catch of the day, and subsequently many of the families went home with plenty of fillets for a fish taco dinner. Ringtails were just as plentiful as the grunts, and I’m told by Dave Gardner that when cooked right they eat a lot like spot.

Some kids fished hard the entire time. Some kids (like mine) started strong but then wanted to take lots of breaks and hangout inside the cabin. JK, the resident Vonda Kay chef, impressed kids and parents alike with his tasty breakfast sandwiches, burgers, and grilled cheeses, but for the kids, it was probably the cold Gatorade and sodas, as well as the end of the day cut watermelon, that produced the biggest memories.

Our mates for the day—Patrick and Tim–kept lines untangled, de-hooked fish, and made themselves available and helpful in uncountable ways.

The Intracoastal Angler’s Kids Day on the Vonda Kay was easily a success, so please make a note to join us next year in late June 2019.

Fisherman’s Post had a second trip the week of the Kids Day, an inshore/nearshore trip out of Southport, and if I’m looking for a segue from Kids Day, then I have two options when talking about our trip with Capt. Robert Capps of Reelin’ Pelican Charters.

The first option would be to mention that Robert is very kid-friendly himself when it comes to fishing. He, like most captains in the area, charges a set fee for half days and full days, and then adds to that set fee if you have more than two people. However, unlike most, kids fish for free on his boat, as he never charges anything additional to bring a kid along on a fishing trip.

The other transition option I could take would be to focus on my guests, as I brought a parent/kid duo on board for this half day of catching gray trout, sea bass, and flounder with Reelin’ Pelican. Nate Rice is our new Managing Editor at Fisherman’s Post, and since the week before he had passed up a fishing trip with his dad to complete an Outer Banks distribution run, I thought it just that he get to bring his dad along with us on the Reelin’ Pelican trip.

Nate and his dad Bob are certainly older than any parent/kid combo on the Vonda Kay, but still there’s a feel good emotion that comes at any age when kids and parents get time together on the water and away from the busy-ness of life.

Nate and Bob Rice with their party’s limit of gray trout. The grays were caught on live bait at Yaupon Reef while fishing with Capt. Robert Capps of Reelin’ Pelican Charters out of Southport/Oak Island.

Robert was a great host, and we already have plans to get together again in the fall to find some big kings or in the winter to do a little bluefin fishing.

You, however, shouldn’t wait until fall or winter. You should get on the water with him now to target flounder, red drum, kings, spanish, and more. Robert runs both an inshore and an offshore boat, and you can find out more about all the different trip packages he offers at

That concludes my parent/child theme for this week’s Tidelines. And while I am sitting at a computer in the Fish Post office typing this article out, my boys are probably home fighting about who has had more time than the other at Xbox, but still I think (know?) we accomplish something any time we get them outside and fishing.