East Tennessee Outdoors: Take a Kid Fishing

Published 6:00 am Saturday, June 1, 2019



I was six years old when I caught my first fish. It was a hefty 6-inch brook trout, and I thought I had caught Moby Dick.

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I remember this so clearly because that moment ranks up there with killing my first deer, shooting my first squirrel, and taking home my first turkey.

Six-years-old is a special time in a little boy’s life, and that fish planted a seed in me for the outdoors that is growing 50 years later.

As the years passed, one thing became a constant in my life I fished. I caught pike in Canada, catfish in South Carolina, and shark off the coast of North Carolina.

I fished the Snake River for trout, flew into the outback of Canada for Walleye, and fished for Salmon in New York state in the dead of winter.

But when I take inventory of all of the fish the Good Lord has allowed me to catch during all of those years, that little trout is still number one on my list.

It is there not just because it was my first fish. It is there because an adult, my brother, bothered to take me fishing, and before the trip was over, I felt like I was equal in his eyes. I too could catch fish.

On June 8, 2019, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is having their annual free fishing day. On this day, no one in the state of Tennessee will need to possess a license in order to fish any Tennessee waters.

For young adults 15 years old or younger, the week of June 8 through June 14, 2019, is a free fishing week, and no license is needed for them during the entire week.

Many communities will have special fishing events just for the kids on this day and it will be a great opportunity to get out and have a day with the entire family.

It is a wonderful opportunity for adults to take their children, grandchildren, nephew, nieces, brothers or sisters fishing. Take them fishing and instill in their hearts a love for the outdoors.

Make sure you fish with live bait like a worm, night crawler, cricket, etc., and take them to a place they can be successful. Let them fish for bluegill, carp, or stocked trout.

Nothing will instill a love for the sport than for them to succeed at it.  But let them understand it is not about how many fish you catch; it is about the moments you spend in the outdoors.

If you catch fish, that is okay too, but remember it is all about nature, the experience and the outdoors.

Where would I be today without that first fish?

I really don’t know, but two things are crystal clear. I would have fewer memories, and I would never really know what the outdoors can offer. To me, that fish turned me toward a life spent outdoors.

For more information about Free Fishing Day and other TWRA events, pick up a copy of this year’s fishing guide or go to the TWRA website.