February 8, 2013

Kentucky Afield Outdoors: Get someone started fishing at FINs lakes


Frankfort, KY. - Introducing a child, relative, coworker or friend to the joy of fishing is a great way to ensure an ample supply of fishing partners to enjoy the excellent fishing opportunities across Kentucky.

"Keep it simple with an affordable spin cast rod and reel combo and use a wax worm for bait," said Marc Johnson, aquatic education coordinator for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. "They are great for kids because wax worms are not icky or slimy like nightcrawlers."

The Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) lakes managed by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife are great places to take someone with limited or no experience fishing. The goal of the program is to provide productive fishing opportunities close to home for people living in Kentucky cities, both large and small.

The program regularly stocks 39 lakes around Kentucky with catfish and trout. Most lakes receive stockings of trout this month and catfish in March. Biologists closely monitor the population of bass and bluegill in these lakes and conduct supplemental stockings if needed to keep populations high and fishing prosperous.

Just this past week, Jacobson Park Lake near Lexington, a new addition to the FINs program, received 4,000 rainbow trout. The fisheries division also stocked trout in eight lakes in the FINs program in Jefferson County. Lakes in Boyle, Franklin, Henderson, Hopkins, Jessamine, Knox, Marion, Meade, Madison. Montgomery, Nelson, Scott and Union counties all received trout stockings as well.

Johnson, who teaches hundreds of kids and adults how to fish each year, usually tips a light feather jig with a wax worm for beginning anglers. This combination would be a good choice for the FINs lakes.

"You don't need fancy lures or expensive tackle," he said. "The feather jig attracts them, but the wax worm is what they want. I like to keep a mixture of feather jigs, some light and some dark. Everything likes to eat wax worms. Bass, catfish and bluegill and even trout will eat wax worms."

Make the fishing experience enjoyable for kids. "When the fishing stops being fun, go do something else," Johnson said. "Take a break and roast a weenie or skip rocks. They often want to fish some more after taking a little break."

Be prepared to spend several hours outside. Kids won't have fun with cold feet and numb noses.

"Comfort is the key, especially for kids," Johnson said. "Dress the kids warm enough to stand a day outside. What seems warm enough at the house can be different beside a lake where it can turn cold and nasty. Dress them in layers so they can remove them if it gets warm."

Johnson also stresses patience when teaching kids to fish. "Be willing to repeat yourself many times," he said. "Fishing is an experience, even if you don't catch fish. Accentuate enjoying the day and the outdoors, not just the catching."

Johnson uses a slightly different tack when teaching adults to fish. "Adults don't like to admit they don't know how to do something," he explained. "Give them permission to make mistakes, especially if they have to lose tackle. My mentor Lonnie Nelson taught people that if you aren't losing tackle by casting into trees or getting hung on the bottom, then you aren't fishing in the right places."

With the arrival of February, days with temperatures in the 50 and 60s aren't far behind and are perfect for fishing on a FINs lake. For a list of the FINs lakes and stocking schedules, visit the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife homepage at fw.ky.gov. The entire Spring Fishing Frenzy series will be posted at this same website for future access to these articles.

Remember the current license year expires Feb. 28. If you plan to fish after March 1, you'll need to buy a new fishing license, available in the sporting goods section of department stores or tackle shops. If you plan to keep trout, you will need a current trout permit. You may also buy licenses and permits by visiting the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife homepage at fw.ky.gov or by calling 1-877-598-2401.