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Kids wait for a bite at Madison's Warner Park. / Gary Engberg/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
NPAA member Greg Karch giving kids and parents fishing tips. / Gary Engberg/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
A fishing day for kids held in Madison. / Gary Engberg/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com

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Throughout the summer many local groups, fishing organizations and civic groups organize fishing events geared toward getting children out fishing and learning about the outdoors.

Recently, the Yahara Fishing Club of Madison had their Kidís Fishing Day at Warner Park and over 400 children and adults attended. These kids learned some fishing basics, won a few prizes and had a free lunch. And there are plenty of additional events for kids scheduled in upcoming weeks.

This is the best time of the year to attend one of these events. I hope that kids follow these events up by taking the new rods and reels that they've received and go fishing with a parent or other adult family member. Next month, one of the best local events for kids in the Madison area will be held at the Wilderness Fish and Game store in Sauk City.

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June is a great month to fish from shore and this is the way that most children learn to fish. Most families do not have the luxury of having a boat, so shoreline fishing is the answer. Iím going to give you a few tips, locations to fish and more fishing basics so that your fishing excursion is fun, which is the most important thing when fishing with kids. Many studies have shown that children that have a good time while fishing early in their lives will be more likely to continue fishing as they get older.

Here are a few helpful tips for your fishing experience;

ē If you havenít gotten a rod and reel, buy good equipment. You donít have to buy the very best gear, but purchase something good and take care of it.

ē On your reel use a light line which should help you catch more fish. Panfish are going to be your main species that youíre going to catch, so scale down on line size.

ē Use small floats which are easier for panfish to pull under the water. You want to try and balance your equipment for the fish youíre after.

ē Always have children wear polarized sunglasses which will allow you to see fish in shallow water and also protect their eyes.

ē For panfish, ice fishing jigs tipped with a wax worm or piece of a nightcrawler will work well all year for bluegills and other panfish.

ē Another simple rig that is easy for kids is a plain hook, a small split shot, and a nightcrawler fished slowly along the bottom. This may catch a walleye or a bass.

ē Change your line regularly or take off some so that you always have fresh line. Make sure that your hooks are sharpened and try to learn a couple of simple knots that are easy to master.

The month of June is a great month to fish from shore because many fish will move to deeper water that you canít get at later in the summer. Now, itís possible to have about any fish species within a shoreline cast's reach. Itís a good idea to do some fish research before heading out to learn a little about the fish that youíre after and its habits so that you can be sure that youíre working good locations for the fish youíre chasing.

The Yahara Fishing Club has put together a little book that gives you many pointers and locations to fish throughout the year with your children. Below are a few of their best locations to share with you.

Here are some of the better shore locations in the Madison area to fish throughout the fishing season;

ē Mendota County Park is located off Highway M east of Middleton, in the northwest corner of Lake Mendota. This is a good panfish location year-round. As the water warms up, fish this spot early in the morning. You can also wade this spot just before dark for walleyes that come shallow to feed.

ē Governor Nelson State Park is another good place to fish during the week. The weekends are crowded with people launching their boats and with a relatively small pier things can get crowded. Though the water is relatively shallow, there are nearby weed beds that attract fish. This is also a handicapped accessible pier.

ē Cherokee Lake is part of the Yahara River above Lake Mendota. Take Commanche Way off Wheeler Road. The lake can be productive for all fish species depending the time of the year. A vast majority of the shoreline is Public Park open to shore fishing. Thereís a small boat launch on the dead end road that also will hold active fish.

ē Highway 113 Bridge near the intersection of Highway 113 and Highway M just north of Lake Mendota. The Yahara River passes under the bridge here and all fish migrating upriver to Cherokee Lake. Walleyes, white bass, and catfish are the main fish youíll find here. Be careful with children near the highway. Big catfish can be caught during the early part of summer.

ē The Warner Park Lagoon is directly adjacent to Northport Drive and Troy Drive. This is a wonderful place for any kind of fishing. There are large numbers of panfish, some game fish, bullheads, and carp. This is where the Yahara Fishing Club had their recent outing and the children caught many fish of all species.

ē The Tenney Park Lagoon off Sherman Avenue is another good location since it receives its water from Lake Mendota. There are mainly bluegills, but any species of fish is possible.

ē Other good shore fishing locations are; the Tenney Park Breakwall, Lake Wingra and the Vilas Park Lagoon, Wingra Creek, Law Park, Winnequah Road Lagoon, Babcock Park in Mcfarland, and the Fish Camp Launch area are all good fishing locations for adults and children.

There are a few other things to remember which will make your fishing adventure a success. I suggest that you always have children wear life vests, children donít care about the species of fish they catch they just want action, donít stay too long, bring some drinks and snacks for the kids, have some other activities to do if fishing is slow like skipping stones or identifying birds, bring a camera because kids love pictures, and teach children to follow rules and never litter.

I havenít mentioned any locations in the Sauk City area because there is too much danger with the high water on the Wisconsin River. But, Fish Lake, Crystal Lake and Whitemound Lake can all be fished from shore with good success. Iíll share a few more fishing locations for children and adults in a future article.

Be safe and have fun!

Gary Engberg is a professional tournament angler, fishing guide, and writer. He began fishing tournaments in the early 1990ís and has fished the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT), North American Walleye Association (NAWA), Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC), World Walleye Association (WWA), FLW, and Mercury Nationals in the years since. Gary has hosted the Outdoor Horizons radio show weekly for 14 years in Madison on WTDY 1670 AM and WTDY 106.7 FM Saturdays at 8:05 am. and is also a correspondent for the Wisconsin State Journal for the last 12 years. Visit http://www.garyengbergoutdoors.com for more from Gary Engberg.

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