What better way to spend a summer morning or evening in the Land of 10,000 lakes than fishing?
Fishing is the great Minnesota pastime.
A popular new naturalist program at Minnesota’s State Parks teaches the basics of fishing. From novices to those brushing up their fishing skills, it’s a great way to learn fishing skills.
At Interstate State Park, the I Can Fish! program is taught every Friday afternoon throughout the summer. One fine June day I ventured over to the park to check it out. I’ve been fishing with my family, but had never really paid attention to the basics. You know, those little details that might make the difference between a good day of fishing and stories about the one that got away.
Naturalists Lisa and Susan had everything we needed – fishing poles, hooks, bait and great information. The program lasts from 1-2 hours, teaches you the basics of fishing-casting, types of fish, safety and if you’re lucky you can learn how to take a fish off! (It’s catch and release only during the program). Minnesota residents may fish from shore in the park without a license.
A family of four who were camping in the park joined me. We all agreed fishing is about having fun and catching fish. The biggest challenge is to be patient and the best way to catch a fish is to think like one!
Did you know fish have five senses? And understanding their senses is part of the trick to understanding fish.
Fish can see around them, but not in front of them, and even then they can’t see very far. So bright color is really attractive to them!
Fish can smell with their nose, lips and face. Eeeww…but this means they have lots of ways to smell that big fat piece of bait attached to your hook. They can also smell your sunscreen or bug spray.
Fish also have an even more special sense than we do. Thank goodness we don’t have this! It’s called a lateral line and is on the sides of the fish’s body. They can feel vibrations.
Finally, fish can hear you too.
Understanding a fish’s sense of sense made me realize why you don’t talk when you’re in the boat and why you shouldn’t dangle your hands or feet in the water when you are fishing. You scare the fish away! That is good to know!
Even understanding how a fish thinks is no guarantee you will catch one! There are other factors to consider like where fish like to hang out, how and what the best way is to catch that big northern instead of a sunnie and how to tell the difference.
We learned all of this, had some time to practice casting, and then slipped over to the river’s edge to give it a try. It was a perfect summer day along the St. Croix.
The I CAN FISH! program is offered at many Minnesota State Parks and is funded by the Legacy Fund. To find a program near you go to: HERE