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Make Fishing Fun for Kids on Free Fishing Day
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Tuesday, June 6, 2023
 

COURTESY OF IDAHO FISH AND GAME

On June 10, anyone can get out and enjoy a day of fishing without a fishing license.

Free Fishing Day is an Idaho tradition that includes Fish and Game employees and volunteers bringing fishing gear to various fishing spots and loaning rods, reels and tackle and helping people learn to fish. The day offers novice anglers a great opportunity to experience some of the wonderful fishing opportunities Idaho has to offer and learn a fun and inexpensive sport that all ages can enjoy.

Kids 13-years old and younger do not need a fishing license in Idaho, so fishing is an inexpensive summer activity. Catchable-sized trout ranging from about 10 to 13 inches are regularly stocked statewide and in many easily accessible fishing spots, including community ponds, local reservoirs and nearby lakes.

“In the month leading up to Free Fishing Day, Fish and Game hatcheries stocked about 500,000 catchable rainbow trout throughout the state,” Fish and Game Hatchery Manager Bryan Grant said.

Every region in the state plans to host a few Free Fishing Day events on June 10. The closest to the Wood River Valley is Hagerman’s Riley Creek pond, which offers bass fishing.

If you’re new to fishing, or just new to fishing in Idaho, the state has hundreds of places to fish, and you can catch a variety of species ranging from bluegill to sturgeon. Check out Fish and Game’s Fisher Planner webpage to search for nearby fishing spots, the types of  Fish and fish in those bodies of water and a list of when those places were last stocked. 

Fish and Game stocks about 30 million fish annually for anglers, which includes millions of trout that are immediately available to catch.

 If you don’t have fishing gear, it’s fairly inexpensive to get started. A simple rod and reel combo goes for about $25. All you need to for tackle is a few hooks, weights, bobbers and bait. It’s tough to beat live worms for bait – nearly all fish will eat them – but if you don’t want to deal with squirming live worms, there are many other options, including marshmallows, Powerbait, dough bait, imitation fish eggs and a plethora of other things.

If you’re unsure how to rig a rod for fishing, Fish and Game provides simple instructions on its Learn to Fish webpage.

For information about bag limits and other rules, see the 2022-2024 Idaho Fishing Seasons and Rules booklet, , which is available in a printed booklet at Fish and Game offices and many license vendors and sporting goods stores.

TIPS FOR TAKING KIDS FISHING

Do you want to be a rock star to your kids this summer? Consider grabbing some fishing gear and taking them on a family adventure. 

From the fresh air to the excitement of feeling a tug on your line, fishing provides the perfect excuse to spend together-time outdoors. Plus, introducing young children to the sport, which may seem daunting for some, is actually easy with a little planning.

“Fishing is a great sport even for little kids, if you introduce it in a positive way,” says Greg Schoby, Fish and Game Fisheries Manager in Salmon. “And remember: Keep it fun, short and simple, and the kids will be hooked.”

If you have never been fishing before, Idaho’s Free Fishing Day may be the perfect day to start. No fishing license is required, but all other rules apply. Fish and Game personnel and volunteers will host several free events at local fishing waters throughout the state to help first-timers discover the joys of fishing.

No matter when you go, Fish and Game recommends keeping these 10 simple tips in mind to ensure your kid’s first fishing experience isn’t their last.

1. Catching is key: Getting kids hooked on fishing is about getting a fish on the line...fast. And for kids, it’s about numbers caught, not how big. Taking them on a trip that produces the most fish possible should be your goal. Finding a well-stocked pond or lake is essential, and Fish and Game makes locating one easy. 

2. Keep it simple: If you and the kids have never fished before, don’t worry about all the different types of fishing equipment. Push button reels and casting rods exist for a reason — they’re easy to use. A few small hooks, a few 1-inch bobbers and sinkers is all you need to get started. And don’t be afraid to ask others or visit your local sporting goods store. If you lack equipment, Fish and Game’s Take Me Fishing trailers are loaded with loaner fishing rods, tackle, bait and are staffed by experienced anglers that can help – all for free. These trailers make appearances at well-stocked fishing holes throughout the state, so be sure to check the schedule for when and where.

3. Keep it short: The younger the child, the shorter the attention span. If the fish aren't biting, don't keep kids held hostage watching their fishing poles. Allow some breaks for rock skipping, enjoying some beach time, whatever keeps them happy and lets them enjoy the outdoors. And don’t be surprised if catching fish isn’t their first priority. Just remember, as your child’s attention span gets longer, so will your fishing trips.

4. Fun times ahead: If you want your kids to go fishing again, the "fun" part is most important. Choose a sunny day, take photographs and just have a good time watching them have a good time. Keep this in mind and each outing will be a success, regardless of the number of fish caught.

5. Be patient: Remember that it’s not just your fishing trip, it’s their fishing trip too. Accept that you will be unsnagging lines, baiting hooks and probably not fishing much yourself. They will probably get dirty or even a little wet. But the quickest way to turn children off to fishing is to get frustrated with them. Keeping patient and the outing short (under an hour for beginners) will set you on course for cultivating a lifelong fishing buddy.

6. Snack breaks: Pack a cooler with drinks, sandwiches and lots of snacks like granola bars, crackers, peanuts and a treat or two. Fish for 30 minutes or so and then take a break. Fish for 30 minutes and then take another break. Snacks with breaks can help with moments of frustration and will keep the kids interested longer.

7. Remember the essentials: Besides hook, line and sinkers, be sure to take sunscreen, bug repellant, a few Band-Aids and a fishing license if required. Resident youth 13 years old or younger do not need a fishing license, but those 14 years and older are required to have a license in their possession while fishing. 8. Never waste teaching moments: Fishing is not only about just catching fish – creating memories and learning are what’s important. Capitalize on moments to teach them, tell them about bugs, birds, plants and fish. The outdoors is the best kind of classroom, and kids will soak it up like a sponge.

9. Keep a few: Catch and release is an important aspect of angling, but there's nothing wrong with keeping a few for the pan if the fishing rules allow. It can also open their minds on where the food they eat comes from. Just like agriculture, it is important to open your kid’s mind on where people get their food.

10. Leave it better than you found it: Remember to pack out your garbage and encourage kids to pick up too. These lessons mold responsible and conscientious anglers helping to ensure the future of our sport.

 

 

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