Have fun with a youngster - go fish

OUTDOORS

Outdoors

May 26, 2002|By CANDUS THOMSON

By now I'm guessing you've seen the TV commercials or magazine ads that have adorable children urging grown-ups to "take me fishing."

The ads and commercials are the work of the nonprofit Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the message is a good one, and not just because it helps create a new generation of readers for this column.

Fishing's not hard to learn (although the number of how-to books and TV shows out there might scare you into thinking that you'd be better off learning bypass surgery). It's also an inexpensive hobby to maintain, unless you buy all the books and videos and high-tech baubles.

Maryland has designated Saturday and June 8 as free fishing days. While youngsters under 16 don't need a license, the free days mean a grown-up can be a kid again. Department of Natural Resources fisheries chief Eric Schwaab calls the program the state's "free introductory offer."

"It's just a little bit of an encouragement to get out there for the first time or for the first time in a long time," Schwaab says. "And it's a good time to take a friend out."

You can pick up a simple spinning rod and reel for about 30 bucks. Throw in some bloodworms or shiners, and you're in business. Try getting into MCI Center for any event for that.

There's tons of good free advice cheerfully given at any number of local tackle shops. Buy some bait and chat up Dee Taylor at Tochterman's on Eastern Avenue in Fells Point or Bill Horstman at the Fishin' Shop on Pulaski Highway or Doug Geis at Old Reisterstown Bait and Tackle. There's advice online, too, at the Web site of the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation: www.waterworkswonders.org.

Perhaps best of all, the region is chockablock with kid-friendly fishing holes that have clean bathrooms and don't require a boat. Try Piney Run Park in Carroll County, Lake Waterford in Anne Arundel or Centennial Lake in Howard. If you have your heart set on fishing from a boat, rent one at the Loch Raven Fishing Center ($25 daily for a motorboat, $14 for a rowboat or canoe, $50 for a bass boat) and drop a line in the reservoir.

The campaign to get kids out on the water is being taken up by a number of organizations such as the Maryland Bass Federation, Trout Unlimited and Chesapeake Women Anglers. Those groups and nine others are sponsoring a two-day event next weekend at the Bass Pro Shop at Arundel Mills geared to getting kids interested in everything from fishing and rock climbing to archery to duck calling. Call 410-689-2500 for details.

Also on Saturday is the popular Governor's Youth Fishing Derby at Piney Run Park. The tournament, for kids under 16, runs from 6 a.m. to noon. The entry fee is $3.

Last year, about 150 young anglers competed for trophies and prizes. The tournament is run by park manager Loren Lustig, a good angler and a big kid himself. Call 410-795-3274 for more information.

The bottom line is it doesn't matter where you decide to go, just go.

Take them fishing because the thought of gazillions of small fry growing up with their eyes glued to a video screen is a scary one.

Take them fishing because learning to laugh about the one that got away comes in handy later in life when you're about to blow a gasket on the highway or mouth off to your boss.

Take them fishing because new anglers mean new stewards for the land who will say no to stupid plans to drill for oil in the wilderness or build a highway through a wetland.

Take them fishing because it's good for them. And for you, too.

`Pay It Forward'

The movie stinks, but the sentiment's a good one, especially when it comes to the care of hiking trails.

Trails aren't like highways, where the hired help makes repairs and cleans up the trash. Erosion and overgrowth aren't dealt with if volunteers don't step in.

Saturday is the 10th annual National Trails Day, a chance to join with others to fix what's ailing some of the area's footpaths. All that's needed is a willingness to get dirty and a little bit tired.

The outfitter REI Timonium is sponsoring a trail rehab pro- ject at Rocks State Park near Jarrettsville.

A mile-long stretch of trail near a popular rock-climbing area is rutted and overgrown, making footing treacherous. Rescue crews trying to help injured climbers often are hampered by conditions, says Jen Walker of REI.

The Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Department will work with the volunteers to clear the path.

If you've got the time and don't mind a little honest labor, give REI a call at 410-252-5920. The staff will mail or fax you an information packet.

REI will supply the bagels, fruit and water. Volunteers should wear work clothes, sturdy boots and gloves and bring sunscreen and a water bottle.

"We have jobs for everybody, and there's no such thing as too many volunteers," Walker says.

Never on Sunday

His semi-excellency, the governor of Maryland, vetoed the bill that would have permitted deer hunting on one Sunday each year.

Big surprise.

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