As my wife sets out on her seemingly endless expeditions across the vast consumer driven plains, I can typically be found loitering in the sporting good isle. I use this time to scope new lures or thumb vethrough the pages of my favorite outdoors magazines. It’s here that I have, more than once, casually been witness to the same questions; “where’s a good place to take my kids fishing?” or “what do I need to buy for my kid to start fishing?”
These questions are usually met with empty answers from the best intentioned employees, who are sportsmen in job title only, so I’d like to try and lend a helping hand.
Let’s start with the where. Maryville and Alcoa have plenty of fantastic places for young fishermen, fisherwomen, and parents alike. The Alcoa Duck Pond, located at 363 Vose RD, is a very kid friendly area, well maintained and stocked. The Duck Pond is home to an annual children’s only fishing event and is well-lit in the evenings. The Alcoa Parks Department keeps it well regulated and safe for family fun.
Another suggestion might be the pond located behind the City of Alcoa Registration Building. This area is simply accessed as it’s right off Hall Rd and features a trail, bridges, and even a small dock. Though it remains a nameless pond, it is a great area for catching small bass, carp, blue gill, and catfish. The area has no age restrictions in place so it is community friendly for children and parents. Alcoa anglers can tell you that this little hidden retreat has some sizable fish traversing its shoreline.
My personal favorite place to fish locally is Pistol Creek. This is the waterway that flows at length with our very own Greenway Trail. Don’t let this creek fool you; it is home to some lunker largemouth bass, pan fish, red horse suckers, and a variety of chubs and minnows. The Greenway allows families to choose multiple access points throughout Alcoa and Maryville; some might be just a few steps from your front door. Most of the Greenway is well lit and provides a family friendly atmosphere for walkers, runners, bikers and in this case anglers.
In order to utilize these wonderful local fishing locations, we are going to need to address the equipment. As to the question of rod and reels, local store shelves are plastered with super hero and princess poles. Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft spot for Iron Man, but from what I remember, he didn’t do much fishing in the comics. When purchasing a first rod and reel, the focus should be on functionality. Nothing puts a damper on the day like a reel that won’t cast or always makes knots.
For years, companies like Zebco have been producing simple push button reels, like the 202, that are perfectly easy to use for all ages, and cost fewer than 10 dollars. This reel paired with an inexpensive rod will last for many years and will be frustration free.
When it comes to the items needed for a few hours of fishing, keeping it simple is going to be the key: bobber, hook, and worm. This is a kid-friendly combo that no species of fish can resist. If you are squeamish and would rather not handle worms, companies like Berkley and others offer products, like Power Bait, that are a great choice. This bait has the consistency of Play Dough; roll a little ball, and place it on a hook.
When setting up your bobber, hook and bait, you will start by tying on your hook. As the saying goes, “if you don’t know how to tie a good knot, just tie a lot”. Once the hook is on, clip the bobber roughly 12 to 14 inches above. Bait your hook with worms, Power Bait, or American cheese and wait for that bobber to be pulled under. Teaching your child to give that big tug upward after the bobber disappears, will be the key to helping them catch their first fish.
I applaud any parent who takes the time to teach their children the skills involved to fish. Taking time away from TV, games, and computers and giving them contact with nature is a great way to bond. So please use these helpful hints to find a local place for you and your children to enjoy the fun of fishing.
Musky Fishing Guide/ Master Angler
Melton Hill Musky