By Chris Frost
Port Hueneme-- The sun was shining, Feb 24, and the Reel Guppy Outdoor Program was in full swing as kids got the opportunity to fish off the Port Hueneme Pier and fill their buckets with all kinds of fish.
The day started a little cold but warmed up as the morning progressed, as kids of all ages got to experience the thrill of fishing. Many planned to make Kids Fishing Day a regular activity.
The kids received instruction about how to bait their lines, pull in their catches and revel in the different types of fish they caught.
Organizer Kevin Brannon said the group meets every fourth Sunday of the month, and during the summer, he takes them out on a deep sea fishing boat on the fourth Thursday of the month.
“We go out to Anacapa Island,” he said.
The event is free, he said, as they advertise on Facebook and reach out to scout groups.
“We’ve taken out over 2,000 kids so far over the last five years,” he said. “We supply the volunteers and donate the bait, time and anything they need.”
The day was slow by fisherman standards, he said, but a typical day the group will reel in at least a dozen different types of fish.
“We’ve caught Jacksmelt, Mackeral, different types of perch, Banita, Sand Sharks, Angel Sharks and we caught an 80-pound stingray last week that we threw back,” Brannon said. “We set up small types for kids, and we don’t age out. The youngest one is 11 months, and we go all the way up to 18-years-old.”
Brannon also hosts a T.V. show called “Reel Anglers Fishing Show” on YouTube and Facebook, and he decided the monthly outing is a way to give back to the community.
“We started with random kids here-and-there, we opened it up to the public, and it has been non-stop ever since,” he said. “I am a fourth generation Port Hueneme kid and grew up fishing on this pier.”
One of his more memorable catches off the pier was a 30-inch barracuda, he said, in addition to a 100-pound stingray.
He loves making memories with the children.
“Sometimes the dolphins will come by,” he said. “We don’t like to use the term no, so we let them explore and check out all this cool stuff out here and learn about the eco-systems.”
Daniel Lopez and his sons Nathaniel and Julian got to see and touch a baby stingray for the first time, and the trio was thrilled.
“This is our first time out here,” he said. “Julian enjoys fishing with his grandpa.”
Julian enjoys hooking a jacksmelt.
“I am having a good time,” he said.
Jose Palacios enjoys fishing off the pier and his business, JT’s Automotive, sponsors the event.
“I have been bringing my kids to fish since they were born,” he said. “This is educational, and they can learn to have fun outside without a tablet and a phone.”
The family caught two Bat Rays and a clam.
“It literally ate my hook,” he said.
His daughter Allison caught a small Bat Ray.
“After this, we are going to go to the park and ride our bikes,” she said. “I have no training wheels.”
For more information, visit reelguppyoutdoors.com