Fishing can be an inexpensive pursuit -- and should be during the teaching phase.
Head to the nearest tackle store, child in tow, and have the salesman help fit the young angler with a spinning outfit that will withstand being slammed in car doors, bending nearly double when the rod tip snags on a branch, rockpile or pier planking and the occasional sword fight.
Buy with an eye toward the type of fishing you will be doing, too. But there's no need to stretch the budget; a basic rig can be bought for less than $30.
Add a double bottom rig, with No. 2 or No. 1 bait hooks, enough weight to hold the bottom and a bag of bloodworms, and you're ready to go.
Good locations for spot, croaker or perch are shell bottoms, hard humps, bridge and dock pilings.
Bait each hook with a 1- or 2-inch length of bloodworm, and send it to the bottom and reel up slack line until the weight can be felt holding bottom.
Spot, perch and croaker hit with a tug, and when they do, set the hook with an upward tug and reel in.
If bloodworms are not available, try grass shrimp, clam or crab baits. Grass shrimp are especially good for perch.
These species move in schools, so once you catch one, there are usually many more nearby.
White perch are more common north of the Bay Bridge, especially along the western shore. Spot and croaker more often are found on bars and humps south of the bridge. Perch, spot and croaker often will share the same hard bottom areas from Thomas Point to the bridge.
If you have a boat, so much the better. If not, there are headboats and charter boats throughout the bay that run daily trips and do an excellent job with kids and novice parents.
In fresh water, pumpkinseed, green- and yellow-bellied sunfish, bluegills, crappie, white and yellow perch, rock bass or warmouth are good targets for young kids.
Fishing under a bobber will keep the kids interested. The bait attracts the fish and the bobber is watched for a strike.
A light spinning outfit and 6-pound test line will work well. Clip a bobber far enough above the hook (Nos. 1, 2, 3, or 4) to keep your bait from falling to the bottom and crimp a couple of split-shot weights midway between bobber and hook. The weights will keep the bait down, but the length of line beyond will allow it to move freely.
Night crawlers, small minnows, grubs, mealworms and hellgrammites all are good baits, depending on which species is targeted. When you buy your bait, ask the salesman what's hitting most frequently in the area you plan to fish.
Most panfish are cover-oriented and hang close to beaver huts, undercut banks, blowdowns, brush piles, bridge pilings and boat docks -- and that often makes them accessible from shore.
Determine the depth you'll be fishing, set the bobber, crimp the weights, bait the hook, gently cast close to cover and watch the bobber.
When the bobber is pulled below the water, the fun really begins.
However, when you get into a school of fish, keep only what you will eat and quickly release the rest. Conservation, too, is a lesson best learned early.
Kids' stuff nearby
Reservoirs, lakes and ponds are places to take kids fishing. The following are among the public sites in the counties around Baltimore:
Anne Arundel County
Friendship Park Pond, 1 acre, perch and bluegill
Lake Waterford, 11 acres, bass, bluegills
Patuxent Ponds, 3 acres, bass, crappie, bluegill
Liberty Reservoir, 3,100 acres, 11 species (panfish to striped bass)
Gwynnbrook Pond, 1 acre, bass, bluegill
Hillcrest Pond, 4 acres, bass, bluegill
Lake Roland, 98 acres, bass, bluegill
Avalon Pond, 1 acre, bass, bluegill
Loch Raven Reservoir, 2,400 acres, 10 species (panfish to northern pike)
Prettyboy Reservoir, 1,500 acres, 8 species
Upper John Owings Pond, 1, bass, bluegill
Lake Hashawa, 2 acres, bass and bluegill
Union Mills Pond, 1 acre, bass and bluegill
Farm Museum Pond, 5 acres, bass and bluegill
North Carroll Community Pond, 1 acre, bass and bluegill
Piney Run Reservoir, 300 acres, 7 species (panfish to striped bass)
Westminster Community Pond, 1 acre, bass, catfish, bluegill
Atkisson Reservoir, 1,500 acres, bass, bluegills
Bynum Run Community Pond, 91 acres, bass, crappie, bluegill
Forest Hills Community Pond, 1 acre, bass and bluegill
Conowingo Reservoir, 4,000 acres, 6 species (panfish to striped bass)
Churchville Community Pond, 1 acre, bass and bluegill
Forest Branch Park Pond, 1 acre, bass and bluegill
Guilford Park Pond, 1 acre, bass and bluegill
Centennial Lake, 50 acres, crappie, bluegill, bass
Lake Kittimaqundi, 31 acres, bass and bluegill
Wilde Lake, 22 acres, bass and bluegill
Lake Elkhorn, 37 acres, bass and bluegill
Pub Date: 6/15/97