Free fishing offers prime opportunities

“Wheeeeeeeee!”

The red-and-white plastic bobber touched down with a splash about 10 yards from our boat.

“Good cast,” I coddled as my youngest daughter’s friend admired her handiwork. “There’s probably a fish there, too. 

“But I have to admit, Rebecca, that is the first time in all the years I’ve been fishing that I’ve ever heard anyone say  ‘Wheeeeeeee,’ when they cast a fishing pole.”

“But it’s fun, Mr. Parker,” she explained. 

Point taken!

Most kids – and adults for that matter – I’ve encountered have the same mindset Rebecca had that day on the water some 15 years ago. Fishing is fun.

And for kids 16 years of age and under, it’s also free here in Michigan.

The opportunities abound. According to Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan is home to 26,266 lakes that are an acre or larger, 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and 36,350 miles of major rivers and streams.

We have 51 species of fish that anglers pursue and for which the DNR keeps records of trophy catches  including bluegills, sunfish, rock bass, perch, largemouth bass,  smallmouth bass, walleye, pike, muskie, catfish,  whitefish, sturgeon, four species of trout and four species of salmon. They swim among over 140 species of aquatic creatures found in Michigan waters.

Best of all, they’re all available for kids to fish for, free of charge. They just need the means to give it a try. 

That’s where we come in. Make it a point to spread a little fun this summer and take someone fishing who doesn’t usually get a chance to do so. It’s great to take a kid, but it doesn’t have to be a youngster. It could be your neighbor, friend from work or the retiree down the street who hasn’t been fishing in years.

A resident fishing license, which lasts through March 31, 2017 only costs $24. A 24-hour license is just $10 and a 72-hour license costs $30. Heck, June 11-12 is Free Fishing Weekend. The DNR waves all fishing fees those two days and anyone can fish without purchasing a license. All fishing regulations still apply.

I haven’t seen Rebecca in years. She got married and moved to another state. I sure hope she’s out there somewhere on a lake or river yelling, “Wheeeeeeeee!’ on every cast.

 

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