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In the Outdoors: Lessons learned at the lake

By Kevin Naze

For many Wisconsin kids, opening day on the lakes/rivers doesn’t “o-fish-ally” arrive until schools close for summer vacation.

Across the state, that time is now, and it’s a great opportunity to introduce youngsters to the sport you’ve grown to love.

Many years ago, National Fishing Week had “Catch a Smile” as the theme, which said lots about what taking kids fishing can do – both for you and the young anglers you’re mentoring.

Today, it’s known as National Fishing and Boating Week, and the 2021 version runs two full weekends and started June 5-6.

The economic effects of fishing are staggering.

The combined economic impact of boating and sport fishing in the U.S. is more than $250 billion annually, with roughly half coming from each sector.

In Wisconsin alone, more than 2 million anglers fish each year, including those under age 16 who don’t need to purchase a license.

The combined economic impact from sport fishing here is more than $2 billion.

Wisconsin also has more than 600,000 registered boaters, with a combined economic impact of nearly $5 billion.

But, it’s not the money or the gear that’s important.

A national survey asked 1,000 Americans what they enjoyed doing most with their dad as a child.

More than one-third of the men and 29% of the women chose fishing and outdoor activities.

That’s three times the number who picked playing sports, board games or card games and five times the number who said they liked attending sports events or going to movies.

The American Sportfishing Association says 85% of freshwater anglers are introduced to fishing by age 13.

Most find bluegills, bullheads and other panfish and rough fish species willing biters in lakes, ponds and rivers.

It’s important to use rod and reel combos youngsters can handle and have fun with.

Some of the bargain rigs sold in national chain stores will handicap a beginner.

Most have cheap drag systems and are spooled with line much heavier than needed.

Instead, using a quality, ultra-light rig will give a child a “reel” thrill.

Talk to folks at area bait shops if you’re not sure where to start.

Not only will they have suggestions, but they’ll also be able to recommend baits and depths to try and know of lakes where boat rentals are available.

Make sure to pack other important supplies like water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent and life jackets.

Use a small cooler to ice the fish you want to eat or keep them in a live basket.

Stringers are OK in the cool water of late spring if the trip isn’t an all-day affair.

A favored cooking method involves rolling fresh fillets in the breading mixture of your choice, then pan-frying in butter, margarine or olive oil until a deep, golden brown.

That’s the kind of snack that has summer vacation written all over it.

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Editor’s note: To read another article by Kevin Naze, CLICK HERE

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