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East Tennessee Outdoors: Creating an Angler

BY DANNY BLEVINS

STAR CORRESPONDENT

A twitch, a tug, a tight line, then a squeal from an overexcited child that is catching their first fish is probably the best memory a child can make in the outdoors.

Some of these fish may have been a trout or other game fish, but most of the time, it was a plump little bluegill.

For most of us, our first introduction to fishing was catching bluegill or some other panfish when we were children. We may have had a little Snoopy fishing rod and reel, a short piece of line, a hook, a sinker, and finally, a bobber on our line.

For bait, we used a little red worm.

We sat there on a lakeshore excitedly waiting for that first tap or twitch of the line. We watched as our bobber went under the water and suddenly, we knew we had a fish.

To us as children, that fish fought like a record-setting bass even though it may have only been as big as our hands. It jumped, ran, and fought until it had us convinced that this had to be a record.

When that fish was finally in our hands, we thought it was huge and proclaimed ourselves the best angler on the water.

We showed that fish to our parents, our grandparents, and anyone else that would give us any attention. We had photos taken with it and cherished that moment as one of the most important moments we would ever have in the outdoors.

As we grew older, we may have caught bigger gamefish, but deep in our hearts and minds, we were still that little boy or girl who had just caught their first fish.

Later in life, that moment of catching our first fish ranked up there with killing our first deer or catching our first wall-hanger bass.

That first fish was an important milestone in our lives that would introduce us to the outdoors.

All of this was made possible because someone took the time to take us fishing.

This happened because someone dropped everything they were doing, found an old fishing rod and reel and took that bright-eyed child fishing for the first time.

For me, it was one of my brothers. For others, it may have been a father, mother, grandpa, uncle, or just a family friend who knew how important it was for a child to catch their first fish.

They knew that the child may never fish again, but there was a chance that just maybe that child would become as passionate about it as they were and make it a life choice that would be with them until the day they left the world.

This year Tennessee has designated June 6, 2020, as Free Fishing Day. This means that no resident or nonresident has to have a fishing license to fishing on any Tennessee waters.

They have also designated June 6, 2020, – June 12, 2020, as a Free Fishing week for any child 15 or under. This means that all children, 15 or under, do not have to have a license to fish this week.

This is a great opportunity to introduce fishing to another generation.
This is an opportunity to take time out of your busy life and take a child fishing and help make a memory that could last a lifetime for both you and him.