Late summer is the perfect time to take your family fishing. It might be hot to us, but the fish are moving. So why not pack up the kids, find a shady spot on a bank somewhere and make some great memories?
Lucky for us, Owensboro/Daviess County has several great options for family fishing right here in our own backyard. Daviess County Parks Department Director Ross Leigh says Yellow Creek and Panther Creek Park are regularly stocked through the FINS program. (FINS stands for “fish in the neighborhood.”) Through a grant from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, the state stocks both county parks with catfish in the summer and trout in the winter. The county parks department in turn agrees to maintain the lakes and keep the banks trimmed so all of us can enjoy fishing right off the bank.
In the city parks system, Jack C. Fischer is stocked with trout in the spring and fall, but Waymond Morris Park on Todd Bridge Road is the only city park that is stocked through the FINS program. In fact, they just stocked the lake at Morris Park with 1,000 catfish during the last week of July!
The state requires that you follow their regulations; a fishing license is required and game wardens do occasionally patrol the parks, but fishing in a park is a great option. “It’s an easy way to fish,” Leigh says. “It really is a golden opportunity to take kids fishing in our parks because it takes very little gear. You don’t need a boat because you can get right to the edge of the water.” The FINS program has made a huge difference. Ross says there is a tremendous increase in the amount of people fishing in the parks compared to before the program. By now, some of the fish are 3 or 4 years old, so there is a good chance you could catch a really nice catfish.
Like Leigh said, it takes minimal equipment to fish in a city or county park, basically just some bait and a fishing pole. For very young children, the cute kiddie rod n’ reels they sell in big box stores will work just fine. Especially if your little ones are more concerned about holding a Lightening McQueen or Ariel pole than actually catching fish. For most beginners, the “Zebco 33” rod n’ reel combo is the standard. You can find them in the $20-$30 range, or keep your eyes out for garage sales and you might find a used one. They come pre-strung with fishing line, which is very convenient.
Remember to grab some small bobbers and some very small hooks. Next, bait. Most beginners prefer worms. Meal worms are smaller and easier to handle than red worms or night crawlers. Some big box stores sell bait, neighborhood bait shops definitely do, and even some gas stations carry bait. If you want to shop local, you can find everything you need at Frank Miller & Sons and buy a license while you’re there.
[tw-divider]Tips for Fishing with Children[/tw-divider]
Safety first! Hooks are the main concern fishing. Always make sure there is enough room between everybody before anyone casts their line, and generally be careful with the hook when baiting the hook or taking a fish off the hook. Most poles have a small loop to hold the hook when the pole is not in use.
Patience is always the most important thing when fishing, but even more so when fishing with children. Little ones typically have short attention spans, so another advantage of fishing in a park is usually there’s a playground nearby. You may want to bring a “plan B” along as well, like some small toys or cards to play with while the line is sitting in the water. Or maybe some bread or crackers to feed the ducks.
When I take my two boys fishing, I find I’m better off not fishing with my own pole so I can focus on overseeing their poles. If I do find time, I might throw another line out and set it down on the bank so my hands are free to help one of the boys if they reel in a fish. At the end of the day, family fishing is more about time spent together than it is about how many fish we actually catch. Either way, it’s a story to tell.
Diamond Lakes – $16 per ticket, 2 poles per person max, 7 fish limit per ticket. Children under 10 free (with paid adult). Any fish over 10 lbs catch and release.
Windy Hollow – $15 to catch up to 6 fish