If you’ve never been fishing before, there are many great ways to get started. If neither parent knows how to fish, check with your local park district for a fishing clinic or pamphlets teaching the basics of fishing. Park staff can also tell you which ponds are stocked with fish.
"Fishing can be easy with a basic spin cast reel and rod," says Brenda McKinney, Chicago urban fishing coordinator with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Once you’ve scouted out the best places for fishing, carve an hour or two out of your day for an experience your kids won’t forget.
The most important safety factor involved in fishing doesn’t have to do with danger in the water—it’s the danger inherent in the hook on the end of the line.
"Always check in the back and front for safety. Casting the rod from the side is much safer than an overhand cast," McKinney says.
Instead of emphasizing the big catch, let the kids rejoice with every fish they catch, no matter how small. For kids, the fun is in catching, not in sitting silently for hours trying to break a record. Keep it fun and playful.
Most ponds also require you to catch and release the fish back into the water. Unless you plan on eating the fish, it’s always best to send it back home.
For more information on fishing in Illinois, contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources at www.dnr.state.il.us.