Spring is almost here in Georgia! It is time go fishing with my two young daughters. I’m looking at huge blue skies, a container full of worms for hungry fish, and a cooler full of snacks for some hungry children. Life is wonderful.
We often find ourselves at our favorite lake on the hunt for panfish, There are few fish species that attract as much interest, obsession and devotion as the ever popular panfish. Their small iridescent bodies inspire whole lifetimes, and their high energy when hooked remind you that big things still come in small packages!
For many young children, panfish are among the very first fish they’ll ever catch. They are plentiful, bite everything you can put on a hook, and are found in nearly every pond and lake you can find. I consider them the perfect fish for kids and adults.
To ensure a successful trip, I look for consistent warm weather in the days leading up to a day of fishing and water temperatures of at least 60 degrees which results in more energetic and actively feeding fish.
My daughters look forward to our fishing trips – even if they decide to just play with the worms!
Most importantly I always aim to create an environment where the goal is more than just catching fish. It is a time for us to reconnect with each other and nature. As their father, I also want them to have the life skills to work through adversity, utilize patience, and find ways to work together. All of these skills can be honed with some time near the water- even if they don’t catch a single fish.
What is a Panfish?
Although there is no official definition for what is considered a panfish, I generally find that is a term for edible game fish that usually do not outgrow the size of a frying pan. The term frequently includes species including bluegills, pumpkinseeds, crappie, perch and the various hybridizations of these species. Despite definition and usage variances based geographical region, the term was first recorded in 1796 in American Cookery, which is also the first known cookbook written by an American.
Do you need a License to Fish?
YES! You need a license to fish on public waters. The cost is nominal (usually less than 20 dollars) and it gives you statewide fishing privileges for a year or more. Rules vary by state, but a quick search on your state’s Department of Natural Resources page will give you all the information you need to obtain a license. If you are found fishing without a license, you could be found guilty of poaching. Poaching is the illegal hunting, killing or capturing of animals. In addition to the embarrassment of being ticketed, fined and possibly arrested in front of your family, your personal belongings and vehicle can also be confiscated – all for a little fish!
Buying a fishing license also helps the environment and creates more fishing opportunities. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) 2017 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation identifies fishing as one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in the United States. As many as 33 million people aged 16 or older participate in the activity, and spend $48 billion annually on equipment, licenses, trips and other fishing-related items or events. These tax revenues are distributed annually to state fish and wildlife agencies to help fund projects and programs that directly benefit fish, habitat and, ultimately, anglers and other recreational water enthusiasts.
President Jimmy Carter once said, “Many of the most highly publicized events of my presidency are not nearly as memorable or significant in my life as fishing with my daddy.” That statement always resonated with me as a recall the many fishing adventures I had with my own father as a child. It is my hope that I can create the same type of lasting memories with my daughters. So far, so good.