I've spent a good deal of my life with a rod and reel.

I'm no pro by any means. In fact, I wouldn't even call myself an amateur. The bulk of my fishing experiences these days, is right off the end of my dock at camp. I'm generally too lazy to put a boat in the water, and I'm only prone to enjoying it for 30-45 minutes. But if it's camp season, I'll do it almost every single day.

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The fun part is, and I hardly ever tell anyone my secret, I catch monster bass right off the dock. They like to hang out under there quite a bit, and there's some trees fallen into the water nearby, so there's lots of cover. So make fun of me all you want for after-supper dock fishing, but I'm catching some big-ass bass.

My grandfather took me the first time.


I can't say I totally remember the first time I ever went fishing, but I know it was with my grandfather, whom we all called Gumpy. Likely, I caught a sunfish or maybe a perch or something. But the point is, we were out there doing it. According to state law, no one under the age of 16 needs a license to fish, so what's stopping you? Once you hit 16, it's $25 a year for a resident license.

Sisters fishing by river
Darrin Klimek

Maybe it's where to go? Maine actually features dozens of "kids-only" fishing ponds around the state. Meaning, only minors under the age of 16 can fish those waters. These are very small ponds, but there are ponds right in the middle of Auburn, or Biddeford, Orono, even Belfast. All these spots are kids-only.

Dunbar town beach, Wisconsin, USA

Fishing with kids in wildly important.

For lots of reasons, this should always be a tradition in Maine. Other states too, of course. But Mainers have been doing this for centuries. As soon as kids can hold a rod, most Maine kids are dangling a worm in the water. Sure, not all kids are going to love it, but there's a good chance you can set a kid on a lifetime of enjoying fishing.

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Whether they decide to do bass tourneys on the weekends, or just catch minnows off the dock, it doesn't matter. What matters is connecting with nature, and simply relaxing. Fishing requires nothing of you, until it does. Then the excitement of hooking a big one takes over. Let's keep showing kids that fishing is cool. And very, very Maine.

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