Gone Fishin’

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Great tips for first-time fishing outings!

Fishing is a fantastic hobby for all ages, but it can be especially valuable for youngsters. It not only gives them something positive and constructive to do with their time, it helps to get them out of the house and exposes them to fresh air and sunshine. Use these tips to help spark a love of fishing!


Many parents set their children up for failure by letting them use hand-me-down rods and reels, which are too large for their frame and too complicated for their inexperienced minds. Instead, purchase your child an entry-level spinning reel and rod in the 5- to 6-foot-long range.


Choose a place that has a healthy fish population and provides plenty of room while kids learn to cast. Avoid crowded banks and places with overhanging trees when they are first starting. Consider a weekend or day trip to Acton Lake in Hueston Woods State Park, Clark Lake in Clark County, and Lake Loramie at Lake Loramie State Park (which is one of the best catfish lakes around). If you want to stay closer to home, visit greatparks.org/recreation/fishing and cincinatiparks.com for local fishing spots, along with kentoncounty.org or campbellcountyky.org in Northern Kentucky. Teach kids to cast in places that are likely to hold fish, such as near docks, around vegetation or downed trees and near places where the depth changes drastically.


Youngsters and inexperienced anglers will have a better chance of success if they target easy-to-catch species, like bluegill and catfish (including bullhead). These fish tend to be bold, aggressive feeders, which means your kids will get tons of nibbles.


Artificial lures may be the first choice for experienced anglers, but inexperienced anglers often find them difficult to control. Instead, set your children up with real or live bait, such as worms, crickets, leeches, dough balls or corn kernels if you are fishing for bluegill, but try to use hot dog slices, worms or shrimp if you are fishing for catfish. Attach a float about one to two feet above the hook if you are fishing for bluegill or use a sinker if you are trying to catch catfish.


Even though you’ll be busy baiting hooks, untangling lines and providing pointers, keep your own fishing line in the water. When you get a nibble, set the hook well and pass the rod off to your youngster. This way, he or she will get to enjoy all the glory! Don’t forget to follow all state laws and local regulations during your fishing trip — you don’t want an unpleasant experience with law enforcement to sour the experience.



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Patrick Morrow is an angler, camper and outdoorsman who was introduced to fishing at age 4. When he's not fishing, he's writing and editing for outdoor magazines.

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