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Teach them to catch a fish ...
Free angling event introduces kids to outdoors
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Forsyth County News

Tim Edwards says his dad taught him to fish.

"It was just one of those things we always did together, as a family," he said. "My dad taught us that way, and that's what I wanted to do for my kids too."

Years ago, Edwards took his children to to an event organized by the Forsyth-Cumming Optimists and Kiwanis clubs at a park by Buford Dam.

The free angling festival provided rods, reels, bait and fishing tips for children who had never picked up a pole in their lives.

That day, Edwards' children, Chelsea and Jake, caught enough fish to fill their stringers.
Edwards said Chelsea and Jake, now 18 and 16 respectively, continue to fish to this day.

And  parents continue to bring their children to that same fishing festival at Lower Pool Park off Buford Dam Road.
Saturday, event organizers are expecting more than 300 kids to swarm the park, each seeking out his or her first experience landing a trout.

Buford Trout Hatchery Manager Bill Couch said the Georgia Wildlife Resource's Division will dump 3,000 trout into the water Saturday morning.

"If kids really want to catch a fish," Couch said, "it's a place where you've got a pretty good opportunity to do it, particularly, a relatively nice keeper."

Couch said trout will range in size from 9 inches to more than a foot long. He said children should "definitely try and keep the fish they catch." They should bring a stringer or a cooler.

The rainbow trout that will be swimming the area tend to go for small worms, and Forsyth County business Rainbow Ranch will provide bait for children as well as demonstrate how to properly bait a hook.

"Teaching kids about this kind of stuff is so important," Couch said.

"As a society, we need to get kids outdoors and interested again in outdoor activities. Understanding the relationship between people and the natural world is incredibly important. If we don't understand that, as a species, we're lost."

Couch said this year's free kids' fishing event will be "the best we've ever had, weather permitting."

Wes Dorsey agreed.

"It's gonna be good," the National Wild Turkey Federation District Director said. "It's just like a great, big festival. Kids get to get out there, try fishing for the very first time, eat some hot dogs and have some fun."

Dorsey said group sponsors have always provided food for those in attendance.

"If we can't get it donated, we split the bill and buy everybody lunch. Last year we served 400 hot dogs," he said.

But there's more to the festival than hot dogs and trout.

Dorsey said there are also giveaways and instructional demonstrations by groups like the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the National Wild Turkey Federation and businesses like Wal-Mart and Bass Pro Shops.

Edwards encouraged newcomers to the event to "definitely visit all the different booths."

"There's so much to see there, not just the fishing-related stuff," Edwards said.

He said when his daughter was a child and attended the event, she learned how to tie flies to lure trout, and she continues to hone that skill to this day.

Further advice for first-timers at the annual event?

"Be prepared to just have a good time," Edwards said. "A lot of people go right down to the boat ramp. But the best thing to do is just go off to the sides and find a safe place for lake access."