Okay, now you’re at the water’s edge. You’ve found that perfect spot, the hooks baited, the cast is made and, oh, my, they’ve got a fish on the line and they’ve landed it! Now what? The next discussion area is what to do with the fish. You basically have two choices: save the fish for dinner, or practice catch and release. Most kids usually want to eat at least some of the fish they’ve caught. Frying the fish in a simple seasoned cornmeal coating works just fine, thank you. Don’t over-engineer it. If you are going to keep some fish to eat, keep them cool or on ice, especially in the heat of the summer. In other seasons, when the water temperature is cooler, a fish basket or stringer works fine for keeping the fish fresh.
The second choice and most often the wisest, is “catch and release.” Carefully remove the hook from the fish’s mouth and gently lower the fish into the water. Try not to handle the fish too much or their protective coating will be disturbed. The lesson you want to teach the child here is that letting the fish go will give it the chance to grow bigger and reproduce and thereby preserve a wonderful resource so there can be more great fishing charters in the Florida keys.