There's no shortage of things to do in the Peach State. On any given day, you can take your child to enjoy Stone Mountain Park, visit Zoo Atlanta, explore any of the historical or cultural centers within the state's borders or check out the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame to name a few. But it would be a shame to miss out on one of the most time-honored and beloved activities Georgia has to offer: fishing.
In many ways, Georgia is an angler's paradise. You can fish for rainbow trout in the cool-water streams of the northern portion of the state, wrestle giant catfish or largemouth bass from ponds and sluggish rivers in the southern part of the state, or even head for the coast to try your hand at deep sea fishing.
And while you'll probably want to get in a little fishing by yourself, it is important to make time to take your son or daughter down to the water. Most youngsters love to fish, and it can serve as a healthy, constructive hobby for the rest of their lives.
But, you'll want to do everything you can to ensure their first fishing trip is a good one. Doing so isn’t especially difficult, you’ll just need to follow the tips and strategies below:
1. Provide your child with equipment and tackle befitting their age and size.
It may be tempting to hand your son or daughter one of your old rods, but you'll be much better served by picking up one that is designed for their size and skill level.
Ideally, you’ll want something in the 5- to 6-foot-long range, so that they can cast and control the rod easily. Most entry-level rods come with a spinning or spincasting reel, which will also be easy for your youngster to use. You could even opt for a cane pole, particularly if your child is very young. Cane poles are the epitome of simplicity, and they’ll allow your youngster to concentrate on the fun parts of fishing, rather than having to learn to use a reel or cast.
2. Choose a good location for your fishing adventure.
As in real estate, location is one of the most important factors in fishing. Pick a good place and you’ll reel in fish all day long; pick a bad place and you'll watch your children grow bored and frustrated. Fortunately, there's no shortage of good fishing locations in Georgia.
Some of the best places to take your child include:
- Rhodes Jordan Park – Located in downtown Lawrenceville, this small park hosts an easy-to-access pond that is full of bluegill.
- Bobby Brown Park – Located in Elberton, this 665-acre wooded park boasts the second largest man-made lake east of the Mississippi River.
- Sandy Creek Park – Located in Athens, this park features a 260-acre lake and offers plenty of other recreational opportunities, including swimming, volleyball and a disc golf course.
- Hugh M Gillis Public Fishing Area – One of Georgia's newest public fishing areas, this 109-acre lake is located near Dublin and provides great freshwater fishing opportunities.
3. Target kid-friendly species that are easy to catch.
Fishing at Seminole State Park in Donalsonville, Georgia
You may prefer fishing for trout, stripers or crappie, but you'll want to target easy-to-catch species when fishing with your child. You’ll need to adjust your sights to suit the fish in the river or lake you're fishing, but most freshwater locations in Georgia are full of bluegill (and other panfish).
Bluegill are bold and aggressive feeders that aren't frightened very easily and do not require anglers to use nuanced presentations to elicit nibbles. You can usually just bait your hook with a worm, cricket or doughball, chuck it in the water and sit back and wait for the fun. Tie a float onto your child's line to make it easier for them to detect strikes.
You can also target catfish, as they're abundant in many larger Georgia waters, and they're also pretty easy to catch. You'll want to use worms, hot dog slices or shrimp for bait, and you'll want to tie on a small sinker to keep the bait near the bottom.
4. Go early or go late, but avoid fishing in the middle of the day.
Heading out for a day of fishing at Florence Marina State Park in Omaha, Georgia
Even if you’ve never visited Georgia before, you’re probably aware that the mid-day temperatures during the spring, summer and fall can soar – occasionally into triple-digit territory. High temperatures can not only make kids miserable and ruin the fun of fishing, but most fish lay low during the middle of the day, which makes them pretty hard to catch.
Instead, head to the water while the sun is close to the horizon. Fish are much more active at such times and your kids will enjoy more comfortable temperatures while learning the new activity.
5. Fish alongside your child.
Although you’ll need to spend plenty of time baiting hooks and untangling lines while teaching your child to fish, it is wise to bring your own rod and fish alongside your youngster. Because you have more experience, skill and patience than your child, you’ll be more likely to get bites.
Once you do get a nibble, set the hook well and pass the rod off to your child, so that he or she can enjoy the best part of fishing – reeling in the catch. This will not only ensure that they have a great time, it’ll give them a story to share with everyone back home. Just be sure to take a photo of your child holding up the catch.
There’s no way to guarantee that your child’s introduction to fishing will unfold ideally, but if you embrace the tips above, you’ll certainly improve your odds of having a great time. Just remember to keep a positive attitude, and don’t get discouraged if your child gets bored and wants to explore the shoreline for a while when the fishing slows down. Chances are, he or she will come running back with renewed interest once the fish start biting again.