by Stephanie Vatalaro
If your kids are anything like mine, keeping them entertained probably feels like Mission: Impossible, especially when it comes to finding new family activities. One of my favorite ways to put a new spin on family time is with a traditional pastime that’s making a comeback — fishing.
Growing up on the water, I’ve always loved to fish. Now that I’m a mom, I love sharing the sport with my daughter, Isla. But even if you’re a first-timer, fishing is an easy, kid-friendly activity that you can bond over as a family with just a few beginner steps.
Step 1: Find a fishing spot.
Going fishing doesn’t mean you have to pack up for a long drive far away from home. Places to fish are closer than you think. McNeels Lake, located about 15 minutes west of Marietta, is a popular destination for new and experienced anglers alike.
You can also find tons of places to fish throughout Georgia with an interactive map at www.TakeMeFishing.org. When selecting a family-friendly fishing spot, look for amenities like play areas, easy parking and picnic facilities as well as safe water and boat access.
Step 2: Gather your bait and tackle.
There are two primary types of bait: natural and artificial. It’s up to you which to use, although beginners often have better luck with natural bait because it tends to be a better fish attractant. Earthworms are a great choice because they’re easy to put on a hook and don’t require any sophisticated technique to lure a bite.
When it comes to gear, simple is best for newbies. To help limit line tangles, choose a kid-friendly starter rod-and-reel combo designed for smaller hands. Some other essentials you’ll need include fishing line, hooks, bobbers, sinkers and bait. Pro tip: To keep kids engaged, bring snacks and games to pull out during downtime.
Step 3: Rig your line and cast.
Rigs are the combination of hooks, sinkers, bobbers and other add-ons to your fishing line. To begin rigging, tie a hook on the end of your line. One easy knot for first-timers is called the improved clinch knot. Next, pinch one or two small split shot sinkers to your main line six to 12 inches from the hook. Finally, clip a circle bobber to the rig three to four feet above the hook.
When you’re ready to cast, unlock your line and hold it with your fingers. Then, swing your rod in an arc, letting go of the line at the peak. To reel in a catch, wait for the fish to stop tugging, then point your rod skyward. Begin reeling in your catch, slowly lowering your rod until it reaches a 45-degree angle. Repeat this process as needed.
With these simple steps, you’ve already got the basics for a family fishing adventure. Before you hit the water, remember that the most important item an angler can carry is their fishing license. That’s because the conservation programs that take care of our waterways depend on revenue generated by fishing license sales. You can get your license anytime at www.TakeMeFishing.org and learn even more beginner tips. Give it a shot, and you might just find you’re…hooked!
A lifelong angler, Stephanie Vatalaro works to introduce newcomers to the water as senior vice president of marketing & communications for the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation and its Take Me Fishing initiative. Outside of work, you’re likely to find her fishing and boating with her family.