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Free Fishing for the Family

image via flickr by kthypryn

It’s National Fishing and Boating Week from June 1-8, 2013. Georgia Department of Natural Resources is encouraging families to get out and make meaningful connections while enjoying nature and maybe even catching your own dinner.

“Outdoor recreation strengthens the family as a unit and children as individuals,” says WRD Chief of Fisheries Management John Biagi. “National Fishing and Boating Week is an opportunity to remind all outdoor enthusiasts to teach their children and others the importance of natural resource conservation while introducing them to an exciting activity that could last a lifetime.”

National Fishing and Boating Week has been in effect since 1979 so that generations of anglers could pass on knowledge and share “the spirit of togetherness” that fishing brings. It’s been a couple of years since I went fishing, but I do remember it was supremely relaxing and special to be in nature… up until the point a snake slithered between my foot and my sandal in the stream bed. That’s my own fault for not wearing proper footwear in the wilderness.

DNR has created two FREE FISHING DAYS to encourage new fishers to get out onto the water. Both Saturdays of Fishing and Boating Week, June 1 and June 8, are the designated free days. On both days, Georgia residents will not need a fishing license or trout license in order to fish on any public waters. (Note: fees for fishing on private property will still apply.) This rule applies to freshwater and saltwater fishing! While you won’t need a license, you’ll still need to stick with fishing limits for the area because conservation is important every day.

There are several kids fishing events all over the state. The DNR website has a calendar for you to check for these events year-round. They also have helpful Tips for Fishing with Kids and recommendations on Where to Fish with Kids on their website. If you’re taking advantage of Free Fishing Days to introduce your Little to the sport, print out the My First Fish Award; it’s very official, complete with the DNR logo, and a great way to make your child feel a little extra special about a family fishing day.

When you get home, check out the Fish Identification page to figure out what you’ve got. It’s a great science exercise for children to make comparisons between what’s in the cooler and what they see in the online list. Also, talk to your child about the fishes’ environment. Some like the weedy, grassy parts of a lake while others like the rolling rocky streams. Wherever fish are they like clean water and plenty of food to eat. Pack an extra plastic grocery bag for your trip so that you can Trek in and Trash Out. Leaving the area cleaner than you found it is a great “thanks” for the free fishing as well as a nice way to keep your favorite spots safe and full of tasty fish.

Where are your favorite spots to fish around Georgia? What’s your favorite fish to catch? Leave a note in the comments for your fellow Georgians to see!