So, you’ve probably sung to your kids the old rhyme, “One two three four five, once I caught a fish alive…” but have you actually done it? Have you caught a fish alive? Earn your parenting badge in fishing (‘fess up, you totally have a running checklist of experiences you want to expose the kids to, so they remember the perfect childhood you gave them!) with a visit to Troutdale. Perfectly suited for amateurs and newbies, easy-drive Troutdale offers a classic American pastime – without the schlep into the wilderness.

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Whistle the Andy Griffith Theme
At this small-scale, adorable throwback to the 1950s, you don’t even need to have your own equipment–everything is provided–and you’re virtually guaranteed to hook something you can take home for dinner. It’s family fishing at it’s first time finest.

Sheltered in a grove of oak trees off Kanan Road, this spot is perfect for an adventure that appeals to both your rugged outdoorsy types (fishing poles and wriggling worms) and those of us who think a hotel without room service is roughing it (they’ll help you bait the pole and clean the fish).  It’s also a great option for birthday parties; you can rent the dedicated barbecue area and cook up the fish right out of the pond.  Just bring some cute fishy cupcakes, and you’re all set.

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Where’s Nemo?
The fish themselves can be found in two ponds aerated by fountains and a small canal. The ponds are restocked every Thursday with rainbow trout from a farm upstate. (So, you’re guaranteed to catch something.)

Visitors begin their adventure at the snack shack, where the staff will provide you with a basic fishing set-up, which includes a bamboo pole and corn bait, and where you can upgrade to real fishing pole and worm bait if you so desire.

Your little ones will love choosing from the character-theme kid-size poles they have on hand for children: Spider-Man! Lightning McQueen! Thomas! Then select a bench under the oaks and start casting, and before you know it, you’ll be planning your fish dinner. Will you pan-fry your catch, or wrap it in foil with some lemon and herbs slap it on the grill?

I Get My Fish at the Sushi Bar
Clueless about fishing? The staff at Troutdale are awesome and will, literally, hook you up. In addition to the great folks in the snack shack, helpers circulate around the ponds to advise visitors on the finer points of using the fishing hole. They can hook your line, de-hook your fish, suggest a bait upgrade (corn to worms, for example), or even add a special lure to your line if the fish are nibbling but not biting. They can also clean your trout and pack them in a bag of ice for the trip home. (Visitors who have time to plan ahead, and like the DIY route, might bring their own coolers and/or a sharp knife for cutting worms and cleaning the fish.  So we’ve heard.)

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Existential Issues
Just so you know, if you or your children are sensitive, and you haven’t ever gone fishin’ before, there are two tricky spots for kids. First the worm has to go on the hook (we heard one adorable tot declaim:  “Oh, he’s not going to like that, is he?”) and then, of course, hooked fish fight and thrash and splash. Troutdale will put you and your children in closer touch with the origin of an everyday food – which is great, but may lead to a discussion about how fish starts as a live animal, not as a breaded stick in the freezer. Just something to be aware of…

Don’t Take the Road Less Taken
The best way to get there is by exiting at Kanan Road from the 101. Under no circumstances should you announce, “Hey guys, let’s take the scenic route up P.C.H. and past Malibu Creek State Park.” Sure, it’s scenic, but it’s also an unnecessarily long ride and with kids in the car, efficiency is the order of the day. Once you get there, Troutdale has its own parking lot so spots are free and plentiful.  Ahh, the beauty of getting out of the city.

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Forewarned is Forearmed (With Credit Cards)
Your feast of line-caught pan-fried rainbow trout is going to be one of the pricier meals of the week. Of course, you’re buying the picture of your kiddo holding up a fish, Huck Finn style as much as the fish, and it’s totally worth it. But it’s good to know before you go, to avoid the sticker shock. There’s an entrance fee ($7 per person, which includes a bamboo pole, bucket, corn bait, the license and ice), then you buy each fish you catch depending on length.  You can bring your own pole, but if you want to rent a more serious one, or get worm bait, both are extra costs. (But they help catch fish faster.)  If you ask us, the most worth-it extra charge is the $1.50, which gets your fish cleaned for you.

Troutdale
2468 Troutdale Dr.
Agoura Hills   91301
Phone: (818) 889-9993
Online: allyoucanfish.com
Hours: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Saturday, Sunday, 9:00 am – 7:00 pm

Copy and photos by Jennifer Arrow

Have you ever taken your kids fishing? What’s your favorite fishing spot in Southern California? Share in the comments below!