Free fishing for kids of all ages

Free fishing for kids of all ages
Photo - Don Gasaway

Free Fishing Days are for the whole family.  All too often the assumption is that they are for kids.  But, those kids can also include grandpa and grandma.  All too often older citizens are forgotten when it comes to planning for Free Fishing Days.  They too like to fish and often do not out of fear of emergencies.

That does not mean they would not like to go fishing.  They love to go but are less inclined to do so as they do not have their pals to go along in case of an emergency.

Free Fishing Days in Illinois are from June 6, 2013 to June 9, 2013.  This does not mean that you can trespass anywhere you please.  It means that anglers can fish without a license during those days.  All other fish and game laws, such as creel and length limits, continue to apply.  Some of Illinois public lands have special events during the weekend.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (1-618-997-3344) will celebrate the day on June 8, 2013 in the morning at the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge near Marion, Illinois.  On the 8th from 8:00 A.M. to noon, there will be a kids fishing derby at Crab Orchard Lake for youngsters age 12 and under.  There will be prizes in age categories and a free lunch.  Fishing tackle, bait and instruction is available for free and there is no entry fee for participants.

In other areas, one can check local fisheries offices and local newspapers for programs.

Many anglers began their fishing careers with hand‑me‑down tackle.  Tackle geared to the size and age of the angler is best.  If it is "his" or "hers" then the tackle means more to them.  Child or senior he/she can be involved in the purchase.

The purchase of fishing tackle is not expensive.  It is within the budget of most senior citizens.  Tackle purchases are an investment in some of the most rewarding moments you will ever experience.

The rod and reel should also fit the angler’s hands and the rod should be about the same length as their height.

There are a number of kids-size fishing kits on the market.  Many relate to cartoon characters that are familiar to youngsters.  The kits come complete with rod and reel, line and a casting plug for practice and instruction booklets.

Tackle for the senior is the same as that for all other adult anglers.  It does not have to be complicated.

Terminal tackle is all the other stuff at the other end of the line.  It includes, but is not limited to, hooks, lures, and sinkers.  Exactly what tackle is used depends upon the age of the angler.  Half the fun of fishing comes from organizing a tackle box.  The box can be a small plastic box.  The small one intended to hold small lures or nuts and screws work well.  Just add some lures, hooks, sinkers, rubber worms and grubs.

The basic terminal tackle is the hook, sinker and float (bobber).  Floats hold a fascination for young and old.  They watch them to see the fish nibble on the bait.  Floats are for those conditions most often encountered in lakes and ponds.  Place them about 1 to 2 feet above the bait and thrown out a few feet from shore.

Two sure fire baits are the worm and minnows.  Worms are the most popular bait among the young set.  They will catch almost any kind of fish.  Worms are not difficult to put on a hook.  Most books on fishing demonstrate ways to put the worm on a hook.

Some final items to take along on are common in all trips to the outdoors with the family.  They should include a small cooler with water, juice or soft drinks.  Some snacks come in handy.  A plastic bag with some veggies can be a welcome cure for the munchies.  There is something about adventure in the outdoors that stimulates the appetite.

Insect repellent, a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen lotion are important.  If someone gets sunburned or eaten alive by bugs a trip afield is ruined.  The idea is to have the total experience be a positive one.  Then they will want to go back again and might even be willing to take you along.

Free information regarding motel accommodations and points of interest is available from Williamson County Tourism Bureau, 1602 Sioux Drive, Marion, Illinois 62959 or by calling 1-800-GEESE-99.  Information is also available online at www.visitsi.com, the Williamson County Tourism Bureau website.  Their e-mail address is info@visitsi.com.

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