Now's the Time to Go Fishing With Your Family
Summer is the best time to relive the simple pleasures of childhood: chasing fireflies at twilight, sipping lemonade on a porch and catching the perfect fish at the lake.
Fishing isn't just for Dad and his buddies; it's a great activity for the whole family to enjoy together. But perhaps you haven't tried fishing because the idea of a giant tackle box, big hooks and squirmy bait intimidates you. Don't let those thoughts stop you.
Fishing requires less baggage than you may think. The essentials are: a rod, reel, line, hook, bobber and a handful of worms; the bait shop puts the worms in a sealed container, not your hand, so don't fret. In addition to the fishing equipment, all you really need is some sunscreen and a small first aid kit, just in case.
The first full week in June is National Fishing and Boating Week, and plenty of North Carolina state parks host celebratory events for the entire family, no matter your experience level:
* The City of Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department kicks off the week with an annual kids' fishing derby at Lake Wheeler the first Saturday in June. Kids ages 12 and younger can participate. Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends around 11:30 a.m. A free hot dog cookout and prizes follow the derby. It's best to bring your own poles and bait.
* The Town of Carrboro and Orange County Recreation and Parks Department sponsor a Youth Fishing Rodeo June 4 at Strayhorn Pond off of I-40 near Hillsborough. Youth age 15 and younger can participate in the competition. Registration starts at 9 a.m. and the competition begins at 9:30 a.m. Prizes will be awarded for longest fish, shortest fish and heaviest fish. A free lunch follows the rodeo. Bring your own equipment, but worms will be provided.
For additional events and information about getting short-term or annual fishing licenses, visit the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission website at www.ncwildlife.org. Youth younger than 16 can enjoy the privileges of a fishing license that belongs to an accompanying adult.
Program teaches kids to fish
There are plenty of fishing holes to visit throughout the summer if your family isn't free the first week of June. Jordan Lake is a popular fishing spot for families. The park coordinates the C.A.S.T. (Catch a Sure Thing!) program for youth ages 6 to 12 who have little or no experience fishing but want to learn. Jordan Lake will host C.A.S.T. June 4, 5 and 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
"We developed the C.A.S.T. program to teach kids the basics of fishing," says park ranger Steve McMurrary. "Fishing is a fun outdoor activity that everyone can do."
Participants learn where to find fish, how to bait a hook, how to use a bobber and, for the brave ones, how to unhook a fish. The C.A.S.T. program and all other educational programs offered by Jordan Lake are free. The course is taught off the dock, and participants are provided with fishing poles and bait. All youth are required to wear the provided life vests for safety reasons.
Free fishing and equipment
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission coordinates several fishing-related programs and events throughout the year. Every July 4, North Carolina has a free fishing day in all public waters. No fishing license is needed for anyone to fish in public water. The WRC Community Fishing Program also regularly stocks specific fishing sites located primarily in city- or county-owned parks throughout the state from April through September. For a list of sites, visit www.ncwildlife.org/Fishing/Fish_CFP.htm.
Another initiative is the Tackle Loaner Program, which helps make fishing accessible to the community, and especially to youth. At sites offered through the Community Fishing Program, people can check out rods and spin cast reels for free when the park is open. The loaner program operates similar to a library. Anglers register for an ID card their first time, which allows them to check out a rod and reel. Anglers younger than 16 receive a free mini tackle box that usually contains hooks, sinkers, bobbers, line and fish stringers. See the box on this page for some tackle loaner sites.
Hanging Rock State Park is another fun family fishing destination. Park Superintendent Dave Cook recommends families use the campsites or stay in the park cabins for longer fishing access.
"You want to fish in the morning or in the evening when the fish are biting," Cook says. "But even when the kids don't catch anything, they still get a thrill out of the experience. It brings them closer to nature."
A lot of the fun of fishing is just being outside or near the water. It can be a great teaching and learning experience for both parents and children. n
Alyssa Griffith is a recent graduate from the UNC School of Journalism in Chapel Hill who interned at Carolina Parent.
Community Fishing Program offers A Tackle Loaner Program
Apex Park Office Apex Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources
Bass Lake Holly Springs Parks and Recreation
Bond Lake Park Office Cary Parks, Recreation & Cultural Resources
Crabtree Lake Marina County Parks & Recreation
Harris Co. Park Office Wake County Parks & Recreation
Lake Benson Garner Parks & Recreation Department
Shelley Lake Complex Raleigh Parks & Recreation
Wheeler Lake Complex Raleigh Parks & Recreation
Carrboro Park Offices Carrboro Recreation and Parks
Michael Lake Complex Mebane Recreation and Parks