Fishing is more than just hooking a fish on a line — it involves the practice of understanding fish behavior and habitat and learning how to read the water. It is truly an art form that requires patience and responsibility. As part of their summer program, the Sanibel Sea School recently hosted a week-long camp to learn about fish, fishing gear and the techniques needed to be successful in the art of fishing.
Twelve campers kicked off the week with a lesson on fishing from a biological perspective. They studied seagrass habitat ecology and fish identification, as well as some basic fish biology. They also practiced tying important fishing knots and learned how to be a responsible fisherperson using fishing etiquette. Guest instructor, Ben Biery with the Sanibel-based Castabout Charters, gave a tutorial on rod and reel fishing and led them through an afternoon of casting along the shoreline.
After mastering the rod and reel, campers took on fly fishing. With help from the Sanibel Fly Fishers, campers spent a morning tying their very own flies. They learned about different flies that mimic what specific fish eat and were able to create their own fly to take home. Afterwards, campers practiced casting on dry land to hone their casting skills before hitting the water in the afternoon.
At the end of the week, they ventured to the Sanibel River for some inland freshwater fishing. Each camper was successful at catching a fish, including bass, bluegill and also invasive tilapia and cichlids.
“We know that people enjoy the ocean in different ways, which can be through beachcombing, swimming and even fishing,” camp coordinator Kealy McNeal said. “Since so many people enjoy fishing, we like to teach campers to fish responsibly and to understand fishing from a biological perspective.”
As a Mind Your Line partner, McNeal also shared the importance of removing fishing gear and monofilament from the environment to protect local wildlife.
“Birds can become entangled in monofilament, so it is crucial to teach young fisherfolk best fishing practices and the importance of properly discarding fishing gear,” she said.
Part of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation family, the Sanibel Sea School’s mission is to improve the ocean’s future, one person at a time. For more information, call 239-472-8585.