Go Fishing!

There isn't a much more old-fashioned way to spending a lazy summer morning then dangling your feet over a stream, fishing rod in hand.  

But, I can tell you, taking my kids fishing for the first time took a lot of guts. 

Growing up, my older brother loved to fish and sometimes he'd take pity and take me along.  I loved spending time with my older brother, so these are some of my happiest memories growing up!  

But I'd always tell my brother: I love fishing, I just don't like catching fish. I always felt sort of bad for the fish, wriggling its life away at the end of my rod.  

As soon as I'd get a bite, I'd start screaming, "Oh no, Oh no, get it off, get it off!"

So, if you want some serious fishing advice from some real fishermen, there are lots of other articles online. 

If you're a parent who wants to take your kids fishing a few times, you don't want to spend a whole lot of money, but you still want to have a good time, here is what I've learned :o)

● Gear and Tackle
If you go online, you can find all sorts of details about rod composition, reel type, length, tackle, etc. 

... I went into Academy looking completely bewildered and told the sales person:  Please help!  I just want to take my kids fishing.  

They handed me an inexpensive rod that has worked perfectly for my kids :o)

Your kids are probably going to want to purchase a tackle box - though honestly any small box will do.    You may be inspired to purchase a variety of flys, jigs, crankbaits.   Go ahead, they look really cool.  :o)

But seriously, don't spend a lot of money. We've lost two tackleboxes in the last year (I know - go figure) and we never used any of that stuff anyway.   

When you sit down for the first time, I'd suggest just using plain old worms.  You can dig a couple out of your garden in the back or purchase a tub at Wal-Mart or Academy on the morning you go.  Crickets work well also!

The Really Important stuff
Okay - so here is where I give you the items that I think are really necessary ;o)

Bobbers - purchase a small package.  You will never see an expert fisherman use a bobber. 


But kids love to watch their bobber. There is nothing more exciting then to see it go underwater and know you might have a fish. So get a small package of bobbers.  You will lose a couple when the kids get their hooks caught on submerged logs and in the trees, so yu'll need more than one.

Weights and hooks - purchase a small package of weights and hooks. Your worm won't do you any good floating on the surface!

Gardening gloves - super important.  Unless you like handling raw, squirming fish, these are essential.  When your kids catch a fish, put the gloves on to help remove the fish from the hook.  Waaaay easier.  Again, an item you won't find in a professional's tackle box, And I know, all those professional fishermen out there can laugh at me - but when your kid catches his first fish, the first person he is going to look at to help him get it off is YOU.  So you decide if you want to touch it ;o)

Wet Wipes - Oh My!  Super important.  Fishing is icky and nasty.  You'll be helping your kids put worms on hooks, throw fish back into the water and dig in the dirt.  You're gonna want to wash those hands off and very few fishing holes have conveniently located washrooms!

Pliers - for getting fish hooks out and putting on those small weights.  Pull a pair out of the garage and stick them in the tackle box. 

Do you need to buy a fishing license?
Personally, I would not suggest you purchase a license unless you're really dying to fish (and I'm guessing you're not if you're reading this note, because you would know a lot more about fishing than I do, if you had any previous inclination to fish yourself!) 

As a parent, you'll be spending all of your time untangling line, putting on worms and unhooking fish.  Not fishing :o)  Plus, for any catch and release locations or state parks, you don't need a license if you're fishing with your kids.

One skill to learn
One skill you will need to learn is how to tie a hook onto fishing line.  It is really simple and easy.  Check out youtube or Google for some basic instructions. It isn't hard, but you need to know it before you go!  That fishing line is slippery stuff, and unless you know how to keep that hook on, the whole game is up!

● Picking a location
Find a stocked lake - as your child will be more likely to catch fish.  The earlier you can get out the door, the better.  Apparently the earlier fisherman catches the fish and the late fisherman gets the worm ;o)  

Some of our favorite fishing locations are:  

Southeast Metro Park - located in far Southeast Austin, this has probably been out most fruitful location.  It is great because there is no entry fee, it is a nice hike to the two lakes, they seem well stocked, and the ranger told me adults don't need a license here since it is Catch and Release

Festival Beach on Town Lake - We had a great time fishing here and while we didn't catch anything, we did have a long talk with a local who showed us pictures of the champion-worthy fish he'd caught here in the past.  And it is hard to beat the location and no entry cost!

Brushy Creek Lake park - located in Cedar park, just north of Austin, this is a great park overall and the lake is a fun place to fish from.  Plus, if the kids get bored, you can always cool off at the sprinkler park afterwards.  It may be hard keeping their attention though!

Decker Lake - another East Austin location.  There is an entry fee (that goes up on weekends).  There is a nice fishing pier, and some shore fishing.  A nice place to go if you're in the area.

Old Settlers Park in Round Rock - I haven't taken the kids fishing here yet, but hopefully we will soon.  The pond is located on the right about half way into the park.  

Camp Mabry - we've fished at the little lake here often for cub scout camps. The boys usually catch small fish, which can be rewarding.  I wouldn't expect to get anything bigger than a blue gill, though.  To get access to the lake, you need to show your driver's license to get access to the base.

McKinney Falls State Park - While we've been to this park, and hiked and biked along Onion Creek, we have never actually been fishing here.  But according to signs posted, the fishing along the banks of Onion Creek are pretty good!

Mary Moore Searight Park - A short hike (see blog for details on where to park) will bring you to the banks of Slaughter Creek.  There are benches, a fishing pier and some beautiful scenery at this location!

Once you are there
Tie the hook on, teach your kids to put on the worm, place your kids a good distance from one another and have fun!!  If you aren't catching anything, feel free to move to another location.  It keeps the kids interested, and sometimes it even works!

And most of all remember this saying, because you will use it a lot:

It's called fishing.  If you caught something every time, it would be called catching  :o)

Have fun!

That's about all I know about fishing.  As I mentioned, I am not an expert fisherman :o)

If you have some useful tips or suggestions or would like to share about a great fishing hole in Austin, please leave a comment below, or email me at bloggeradmin@austintop50.com


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