Introducing kids to fishing is well worth the effort National Fishing Week offers several chances

May 10, 1998|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The 14-year-old still remembers an evening several years ago, when he caught his first fish, one spot among many dozens herded against a stone jetty by a larger school of bluefish -- and invariably he mentions it still when he has the time to go fishing with me.

"Hey, Dad, remember that spot I hooked in the eye?" the conversation usually begins at some slow point in the day, whether we are trolling for stripers on the bay or casting for smallmouths on the upper Potomac.

That the spot, in its efforts to escape the bluefish, swam into his hook never seems to matter -- that first catch caught him at an early age and he has been fishing since and most happy when whatever he catches outstrips the efforts of his old man.

It is a way that we, as other parents do or could, keep in touch between school dances, soccer and basketball games and, double ugh, algebra.

Research by the American Sportfishing Association indicates that more than 90 percent of today's fishermen started fishing before they turned 18 and that if children aren't introduced to fishing before they are 13, chances are they will never take up the sport.

National Fishing Week runs from May 30 to June 7 this year and around Maryland there will be ample opportunities to introduce kids to fishing at state park lakes, ponds, rivers and creeks.

Sam Heaton, field manager for Johnson Worldwide Associates, which sells fishing tackle and marine gear, says there are three steps to getting youngsters involved in fishing.

"First, you need simply to spend some old-fashioned time with your kids," he says, "and that might mean coming home from the office early or cutting the Saturday morning golf game.

"Second, fishing is supposed to be fun, so don't be concerned about the [finer] techniques of fishing.

"Third, to really hook a kid in fishing, they need to experience the thrill of catching lots of fish. Just catching them is what counts when kids are young."

Johnson and several other companies produce simple rod and reel outfits that can get you started fishing for panfish or stocked trout for less than $15.

Spend a few bucks and make it an adventure. Probably you will hear about it the rest of your life.

Free fishing days in Maryland this year are June 6 and 13 and July 4, when resident saltwater and freshwater licenses are not required.

Among the events scheduled for National Fishing Week are:

June 6 -- Pathway to Fishing, 12-station program at Cash Lake in Laurel, 8 a.m. to noon. Registration required. For more information, call 301-497-5763.

June 7 -- Fishin' Fun Contest for children 16 and under, Cushwa Basin, Williamsport Visitors Center. For more information, call 301-582-0813.

May 30 -- Fishing Derby and Youth Outdoor Day, Optimist Ballpark, 7: 30 a.m. registration. For more information, call 301-475-5342.

Pub Date: 5/10/98

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