By: Stephanie Vatalaro, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation
If your kids are anything like mine, keeping them entertained probably feels like Mission: Impossible, especially when it comes to finding new family activities. One of my favorite ways to put a new spin on family time is with a traditional pastime that’s making a comeback — fishing. Growing up on the water, I’ve always loved to fish. Now that I’m a mom, I love sharing the sport with my daughter, Isla. But even if you’re a first-timer, fishing is an easy, kid-friendly activity that you can bond over as a family with just a few beginner steps.
Step 1 – Find A Fishing Spot
Going fishing doesn’t mean you have to pack up for a long drive far away from home. Places to fish are closer than you think. Lake Oliver, located about 20 minutes north of Columbus, is a popular destination for new and experienced anglers alike.
You can also find tons of places to fish throughout the Chattahoochee Valley with an interactive map at www.TakeMeFishing.org. When selecting a family-friendly fishing spot, look for amenities like play areas, easy parking and picnic facilities as well as safe water and boat access.
Step 2 – Gather Bait & Tackle
There are two primary types of bait: natural and artificial. It’s up to you which to use, although beginners often have better luck with natural bait because it tends to be a better fish attractant. Earthworms are a great choice because they’re easy to put on a hook and don’t require any sophisticated technique to lure a bite.
When it comes to gear, simple is best for newbies. To help limit line tangles, choose a kid-friendly starter rod-and-reel combo designed for smaller hands. Some other essentials you’ll need include fishing line, hooks, bobbers, sinkers and bait. Pro tip: To keep kids engaged, bring snacks and games to pull out during downtime.
Step 3 – Rig Your Line & Cast!
Rigs are the combination of hooks, sinkers, bobbers and other add-ons to your fishing line. To begin, tie a hook on the end of your line. A beginners’ knot is the improved clinch knot. Next, pinch one or two small split shot sinkers to your mainline six to 12 inches from the hook. Finally, clip a circle bobber to the rig three to four feet above the hook. Detailed instructions are available on www.TakeMeFishing.org.
When you’re ready to cast, unlock your line and hold it with your fingers. Then, swing your rod in an arc, letting go of the line at the peak. To reel in a catch, wait for the fish to stop tugging, then point your rod skyward. Begin reeling in your catch, slowly lowering your rod until it reaches a 45-degree angle. Repeat this process as needed.
Before you start your family fishing adventure, remember to enjoy the water responsibly. In Georgia, any angler age 16 and older must have a fishing license, which remains valid for one year from the date of purchase. There is no closed season for fishing in Georgia, although there are some exceptions. And if you plan to keep your catches, make sure to know daily limits, which vary by species. Full regulations are available from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Give it a shot, and you might just find you’re…hooked!
To learn more about fishing and get your license anytime, visit www.TakeMeFishing.org/Georgia.