There are few things that can bring a family together like quality time in the great outdoors. This summer, you can enjoy the wonders of nature while teaching your child a time-honored pastime by attending a learn-to-fish even on a wildlife refuge. The full list of events is below and they are happening all across the country, so be sure to plan ahead and mark your calendars now!
April 11, 8 a.m. to noon — Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, CO
Children ages 3-15 and their families can enjoy free fishing, education and crafts at the refuge’s Lake Mary. This event is co-hosted by Commerce City Parks and Recreation and Bass Pro Shops. Be sure to register early, space is limited, call Commerce City Parks: 303-289-3659. To contact the refuge, call: 303-289-0232.
Family Fishing Workshop
April 18, 9 a.m. to noon — Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Seymour, IN
Bring the family to learn all about the fun of fishing. All equipment is provided, and no fishing license is needed anywhere in Indiana on this date. For more information, call: 812-522-4352.
Family Fishing Clinic
April 18, 10 a.m. to noon — DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, IA
Discover the wonders of fishing on DeSoto Lake with a refuge staff member. Learn a few secrets of fishing while having a good time. Fishing poles, tackle and instruction will be provided. Iowa and Nebraska residents age 16 and older must have valid state fishing licenses. For more information, call: 712-388-4800.
Youth Fishing Day
May 2, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge, MO
Enjoy a free day of fishing and instruction for children ages 15 and under and their parents or guardians. All fishing equipment and bait will be provided free of charge. Refuge staff will be on site to help with baiting and casting. Youngsters can also take part in arts and crafts activities at the visitor center. For more information, call: 573-847-2333.
June 6 — Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge, Lacombe, LA
Introduce kids ages 4-12 to the thrill of fishing. The 22nd annual event will take place at the Pearl River Turnaround on Bogue Chitto Refuge. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration, which opens in April, is required in advance. For more information, call: 985-882-2000. Space is limited to 150 children.
Youth Fishing Fun Day
June 6, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, Cambridge, MD
Enjoy a fun, non-competitive freshwater fishing event for ages 15 and under. This catch-and-release event at Hog Range Pond is great for first time anglers! Loaner fishing poles and bait are provided, or bring your own. Kids get a free lunch, photos, gifts and fishing help. Children can also practice casting and join in other fun activities. For more information and directions, call: 410-901-6124.
Take a Kid Fishing
June 6, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge, Seymour, IN
Enjoy fun fishing activities for youngsters at Discovery Pond. Fishing lessons and equipment are provided free, and the refuge Friends group provides a free hot dog lunch. No fishing license is needed this Saturday in Indiana. For more information, call: 812-522-4352.
June 6, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. — Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD
Enjoy free fishing demonstrations and instructions for ages 15 and under at the National Wildlife Visitor Center. Catch and release fishing only. Pre-registration is required, call: 301-497-5887. Register beginning May 1 at 9:15 a.m.
Children’s Fishing Clinic
June 6, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, Swanton, VT
Take a child fishing along the banks of the Missisquoi River. See demonstrations and presentations on fly casting, fly tying, lure making and spin casting. Also see displays on watershed models and invasive species and a fish ID aquarium. A light lunch will be served. Prizes will be awarded. Pre-registration is required, call: 802-868-4781.
June 6, 9 a.m. to noon — Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Stafford, KS
Bring the whole family to this free event. Arrive early to give children the opportunity to learn knot tying, casting and fish identification. At 10 a.m., activities move to the Kids’ Fishing Pond. Prizes will be awarded. Lunch is included. Pre-registration is requested to anticipate attendance, call: 620-486-2393 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free Fishing Day
June 6 — Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, Liberty, TX
Teach your child to fish on the one day each year that the state permits fishing without a license. Fishing poles and bait are available to those who need them. Volunteers are on hand to help novice anglers. For more information, call: 936-336-9786.
Family Fishing Day
June 6, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, TX
Enjoy fishing fun for all the family on the day that the state waives its usual fishing license requirement. Fishing poles and bait are provided. Take part in games; make fish prints; learn about fish and animals. For more information, call: 409-267-3337.
June 6, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Pere Marquette State Park, near Grafton, IL
Children can get free, hands-on lessons in casting, bow fishing, fish cleaning and fish cooking at the 25th annual Fishing Fair, co-sponsored by Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge. The fair includes a catch-and-release bluegill pond. Every child who completes at least seven of the 20-plus learning stations will receive a prize and have the chance to catch a trout. Parking is free. No fishing license or fishing gear is needed. For more information, call Pere Marquette State Park: 618-786-3323 ext. 1 or visit the official site. To contact the refuge, call: 618-883-2524.
Reel Time Fishing Event
June 6, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Bass Pro Shops, Columbia, MO
Kids of all ages are welcome at this free event at Bass Pro Shop Lake. Staff from Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and the Missouri Department of Conservation will be on hand to help young anglers. Rods, reels, bait and lunch are all provided. Door prizes will be awarded. For more information, call Bass Pro Shops: 573-886-7100. To contact the refuge, call: 573-441-2799.
Youth Fishing Derby
June 6, 7 a.m. to noon — Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Folkston, GA
Enjoy a fishing derby for children ages 3-15 at Flatlanders Lake, behind the fire station in Lakeland. Registration is from 7 to 7:30 a.m. Fishing is from 7:45 to 10 a.m. Prizes will be awarded in each of three age groups. After the derby, join in family-friendly fun at Banks Lake Refuge, two miles west of Lakeland. Attend a knot tying demonstration and discover which knots work best for different fishing lines; learn how to “grunt” for worms; create wildlife-themed arts and crafts; and enjoy live animal exhibits. Bring a t-shirt to decorate with paint and fish and animal prints! For more information, call: 912-496-7836.
Family Fishing Day
June 6, 9 a.m. to noon — Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, MO
Enjoy a morning of fishing at Fox Pond along the refuge’s Ozark Highlands Auto Tour Route. The fishing event coincides with Missouri’s Free Fishing Day. Loaner poles and bait will be provided. Mingo staff members and volunteers will be on hand to help. For more information, call: 573-222-3589.
Kids’ Fishing Derby
June 13, 8 a.m. to noon — Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, Marion, IL
Spend a day fishing with your family on the refuge at the Prairie Creek Recreation Area. The derby is open to kids 12 and younger. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Free lunch will be provided to participants and their families. For more information and directions, call: 618-997-3344 ext. 1.
June 13, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, Nampa, ID
Learn to bait a hook and cast your line. Then practice your new fishing skills at Gotts Point. Fishing poles will be available to borrow. Interested in volunteering? Help teach kids about fish biology, fishing ethics, water safety, and casting and rigging. For more information on the event and to volunteer, call: 208-467-9278. While at Kids’ Fishing Day, you might want to also attend the BioBlitz.
Kids’ Free Fishing Day
June 13, 8 to 10 a.m. — Ojibway Island, Saginaw, MI
Shiwassee National Wildlife Refuge will cohost this 35th annual event. Families are welcome. Children ages 3 to 15 are eligible for prizes. Register between 7:30 and 9:30 a.m. Bring your own fishing pole and bait. Some free bait will be available. For more information, call: 989-759-1669.
Kids’ Fishing Fest
June 14, noon to 4 p.m. — Milliken State Park and Harbor, Detroit, MI
Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is a partner in this free event, which gives Detroit-area kids and their families the chance to enjoy fishing along the Detroit Riverfront. All ages are welcome. Fishing equipment is provided. For more information, call the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy: 313-566-8234. To contact the refuge, call: 734-365-0219.
Children’s Fishing Derby
June 20 — Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, Baring, ME
Children under the age of 16 can compete in this annual event. Fishing rods and bait are available for those who need them. Staff and volunteers will be available for help. Hotdogs, chips, drinks and cookies are provided free of charge. The Bay of Fundy Audubon Society and Friends of Moosehorn are partners in this event. For more information, call: 207-454-7161.
June 27, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Seney National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Peninsula, MI
Compete with other young anglers to see who can catch the biggest perch and pike. Register on-site at the visitor center before fishing. Some fishing poles and bait will be available. Shore fishing is permitted along designated fishing pools and show pools. Lead sinkers are not allowed.
Family activities and games begin at noon in the visitor center. Certificates will be awarded to the first, second and third-place winners for largest perch and pike in four age categories. A complimentary fish dinner will be served to all participants and their families at 3 p.m. For more information, call: 906-586-9851.
Take a Kid Fishing
July 11, 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. — Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, Madison, IN
Enjoy a day of free fishing events, open to children age 15 or younger and an accompanying adult. Families are welcome. Take part in a kids casting contest, make your own cane pole, and learn about reptiles and amphibians. Fishing poles and bait are provided. Volunteers will help as needed. Free refreshments will be provided from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. No state fishing license is needed for this event. Please check in to the office no later than 2 p.m. For more information, call: 812-273-0783.
Kids’ Fishing Day
September 12 — Fort Niobrara Refuge, NE
Children and an accompanying adult can enjoy fishing in a pond stocked with fish by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Volunteers will be on hand to help. Loaner fishing poles and tackle will also be available. Enjoy a casting contest and making fish prints. For more information, call: 402-376-3789.