Do you remember going fishing as a kid, riding your bike down to the local pond with some friends and a can of worms? Or maybe you have never picked up a fishing pole in your life but would like your kids to have this experience. Well there is good news for you, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has an urban fishing program called “Fishing in the Neighborhood” (FiN) that manages over 60 small lakes and ponds for fishing in the Twin Cities. Ten of these lakes are located right here in Washington County.
The FiN program has been around since 2001, and it works to create fishing opportunities right in our local parks where families and kids can enjoy a day at the lake. With the FiN program managing a lake, you can expect to catch a whole lot more than bullheads, too. The FiN program’s 10 lakes in Washington County provide angling opportunities for panfish such as bluegill, black crappie, and yellow perch, but predators also lurk in these lakes — walleye, largemouth bass and northern pike are all waiting to bend a fishing pole and give you an exciting time. FiN actively manages these lakes through fish stocking and fish surveys to provide a fun and enjoyable day at the lake for kids and families.
FiN lakes in Washington County include (from North to South): Alice Lake in William O’Brien State Park, Lily Lake and Northland Lake in Stillwater, Lost Lake in Mahtomedi, Battle Creek Lake, Powers Lake, Colby Lake and Carver Lake in Woodbury, Hidden Valley Pond in Cottage Grove and Ravine Lake in Ravine Regional Park in Cottage Grove.
You say you don’t have a fishing pole or any of the equipment to take your kids fishing? That’s not a problem! You can borrow fishing gear from multiple sites in the county. William O’Brien State Park has fishing rods and tackle boxes to lend out to users at Alice Lake. Washington County parks have gear to lend out and bait for sale at the contact stations of Lake Elmo, St. Croix Bluffs and Big Marine Parks. Square Lake Park also has loaner fishing gear.
Some tips to remember if you are going to take your youngsters fishing for the first time are:
1) Keep it simple, you don’t need a fancy fishing rod and jumbo tackle box for your first fishing trip. A simple spincast fishing pole, bobbers, sinkers, hooks and bait are all you really need for a successful trip to the neighborhood fishing hole.
2) Keep it safe with life jackets, band aids for the poke or scratch that is bound to happen, and don’t forget the sunscreen.
3) Keep it fun! Making up games or seeing who can catch the most fish, the biggest fish, or even the smallest fish can keep the kids interested and excited about fishing. Don’t make them fish beyond their attention span, especially if the fish are not biting; you want the experience to be a fun time so they will want to go with you again.
Guest Writer: Jim Levitt is a Fisheries Specialist for the DNR and serves as a Board Supervisor for the Washington Conservation District. For more information about the FiN program and fishing opportunities in the east metro area, visit the DNR’s website at: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fishing/fin/index.html. Or contact Jim Levitt at 651-259-5819