by Holly L
Fishing with the kids is a great way to connect with nature and each other. It can be overwhelming getting started if you are unfamiliar with the sport, so we have put together a guide to help you along the way.
The best way to learn the basics of fishing is to attend a free summer workshop hosted by the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Kids ages 3-16 can participate in catch and release fishing. All the supplies you need to fish are provided and the kids get a reward at the end for participating. The workshops run every Friday night from 5-7 and every Saturday morning from 9-11, Memorial Day through Labor Day. When you arrive you will receive a bucket with your equipment. There are quite a few people helping out. You can learn how to tie a hook, bait your hook, cast your line, hook a fish and then release your fish from the hook and return it to the water.
Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery
34270 Co Rd 652
Mattawan, MI 49071
Once you feel like you know what you are doing, it’s time to get some gear of your own. There are quite a few great places nearby to by a kids fishing pole starter set. These kits have the pole, hooks, and a variety of fishing lures to get you started. They also come with basic instructions on how to set up the line for fishing with live bait. All Meijer stores in the area have a couple kits for sale. If you look around the fishing section you can also find a small fridge with live bait. You’ll want to pick up a container of worms to bait your hook. Your child will be catching small fish, so look for the small worms. Another great place to go would be Field and Stream. They have everything you could ever want for fishing. Simply visiting the store is an event!
Field and Stream
5215 Century Ave
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
GETTING A FISHING LICENSE
You have your gear, its time to consider a fishing license. Kids under the age of 17 are free to fish without a fishing license. Adults are free to help their child fish without a license as well, but if anyone over the age of 17 plans to fish a public lake, they need to apply for and obtain a fishing license. These are obtainable with a few minutes of your time, a valid Michigan ID or Drivers License, and $26, at many locations around town. If you are fishing a private lake, no licenses are required at all.
You can buy a license at Meijer in the sports department, Field and Stream, and you can also buy a license at the Wolf Lake Fish Hatchery but you will need to pay with cash as they do not accept charge.
GREAT PLACES TO FISH
Time to find a location to take the kids fishing. There are a few public locations nearby that are very kid-friendly.
8600 S Sprinkle Rd
Portage, MI 49002
During the summer you will need to pay admission or buy a season pass to enter this Portage Park. You will head to the back of the park and the fishing dock is just beyond the playground. Its contained and has railings to keep kids safe from falling in while fishing. There are many types of fish in the lake, but if you look down you are likely to see quite a few bluegill. These are easy fish to catch. Simply bait your hook, drop your line down and you are almost guaranteed to catch a bluegill. If you cast your line between the end of the dock and shore, you are most likely to catch a fish. Once you have a fish on the hook, be sure to unhook the fish and get it back in the water fairly quickly. You generally want to keep fish out of the water no more than a minute or so. This gives them the best chance of survival once being returned to the water. Be careful handling bluegill, as they have sharp fins that can hurt!
9345 Portage Rd
Portage, MI 49002
Lakeview park features two long fishing docks, one that has sun coverage. There is plenty of space to spread out and safely cast a line. Much like Ramona, there are plenty of bluegill that are eager to bite a worm on your hook, so it is very easy to catch a fish with the kids here. You are likely to also see largemouth bass and perch if you quietly watch the water for a little bit. Be sure to always handle the fish with care and to teach your kids about respecting the fish by getting them back in the water safely and quickly. Gently return them to the water and they should go on to live another day just fine.
Have fun! Let us know how your next fishing trip goes.