School's out kids' fishing is in

OUTDOORS

June 22, 1993|By PETER BAKER

Every year, in the first few days after school lets out for the summer, I take my kids fishing -- not on the bay where the monotony of trolling either puts them to sleep or soon starts a squabble, but to a state or community park, where they don't have to fish.

An odd way to go fishing, you say. After all, isn't the idea to catch fish?

Well, yes and no.

My purpose has been to get them away from the structures that have held them through the late spring -- schoolrooms, baseball leagues, household chores and the like -- and catch up with what they have learned of people, places and things.

Catching a few fish in the process is a bonus.

Our choice has been Tuckahoe Creek on the Eastern Shore for a couple of years because the kids like to bolt into the woods, catch turtles and toads and pick lures, rigs and bobbers out of the trees.

But there are a number of fishing spots closer to Baltimore that will serve as well if not better. Pick one that is suited to the age and attention span of your companions.

For young kids, it is hard to beat the simplicity and excitement of bluegills. For less than $15, you can purchase a cartoon character rod and reel that will catch bluegills for a week or two before disintegrating. For a few dollars more, you can buy a rod and reel that will hold up until a kid outgrows it.

For a couple of dollars more, you can buy a handful of split shot weights, a few bobbers and a small box of No. 8 or No. 10 hooks and a carton of nightcrawlers.

Tie the hook to the end of the line, thread it with a small piece of nightcrawler, pinch on a split shot to keep the bait down and set the bobber 12 to 18 inches above the bait.

Bluegills like waters with weedy growth in which they can hide and feed on larvae, nymphs, adult aquatic insects, snails and other crustaceans and fish fry.

Cast the rig to edge of the weedline or into a clear pocket within the weedline and watch the bobber. When the bobber is pulled down, raise the rod tip and hook the fish (but don't forget to let the kids have a chance, too).

In lakes, ponds and streams that hold larger fish such as largemouth bass, take along a handful of smaller crankbaits -- crayfish or minnow imitations in the 2- to 2 1/2 -inch range -- and set the kids to casting and retrieving along the edges of weedlines, points, overhanging brush and submerged trees and stumps.

Probably you will have to work hard to free a few lures from snags and might lose one or two, but casting and retrieving will keep them interested, and catching a 1-pound bass along with a stringer of bluegills will make the day memorable.

If the fishing is slow, leave the bank for a while and break out the snacks or a lunch.

Take a kid fishing. You can catch a lot more than fish.

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