SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — All you need to do is watch the bobber….if it goes under the water, jerk because you’ve got a fish on the line. It’s the instructions many fathers have given sons, grandfathers have given grandchildren, and fortunately total strangers have offered to any child interested in learning how to fish.
This weekend in West Virginia is an opportunity created with one thing in mind, to get people on the water. Saturday and Sunday are free fishing days in the Mountain State. No license will be required to fish in any West Virginia public water. It applies to residents and non-residents alike. It also means you won’t need a trout stamp to trout fish.
“It’s just a good opportunity to get out,” said Mark Scott Assistant Chief of Fisheries for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “Everybody is tied to their electronics so much anymore a lot of people have forgotten just how much fun the outdoors is.”
For one reason or another, many people who fished early in life gave it up. Other activities got in the way and started to compete for limited time and resources. The DNR is hoping one free trip back to the water will remind you of what you’re missing. At the same time, the agency hopes the weekend will entice others to give fishing a try who may have never fished before.
“Life gets in the way. I used to do a lot of things I don’t get to do anymore,” Scott laughed. “You just have to make time to do it and once you do, you’ll be glad. ”
Fishing can be expensive if you want to make it so, but it doesn’t have to be. This is especially true for children. A rod and reel combo at the local sporting goods store will cost under 20 bucks and usually comes with a bobber, split shot sinker, and a hook. Thread a worm on to the hook and you’re in business.
There will be opportunities this weekend in several locations. Longtime children’s fishing events are set for the weekend. One of the longest running events is one Scott has overseen for nearly 30 years at Little Beaver State Park in Raleigh County.
“I had a kid who won the derby a couple of years ago and I remember when his dad came to the event as a kid,” he said. “It makes me feel old, but also happy the derby is still going on and people are passing it on to another generation.
The event runs from 9 a. m. to noon at Little Beaver State Park.
A big turnout is expected at another event put on by the DNR and volunteers at the Bowden Fish Hatchery in Randolph County. Registration for the Bowden event starts at 7:30 a.m. and fishing for the youngest children, pre-schoolers, will begin at 8:00 a.m.. Older children will be added in 15 minutes time increments as the morning goes on.
Metronews flagship station WCHS Radio is hosting a kid’s fishing event at Coonskin Park from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday. Bring your own gear and the bait will be supplied.
Most of all if you have a child fishing for the first time, keep it fun.
“My earliest memory of my whole life is sitting under a bridge at Fort Spring on the Greenbrier River. I was probably four,” said Scott. “My dad is trying to fish and I was chucking rocks. He never fussed at me, he didn’t care about catching fish he wanted me to have a good time.”
Don’t fuss at the child if they tire of fishing and want to do other things, make it a trip about them and don’t define “success” by the fish you catch.