With Grandparents Day coming this Sunday, September 7, Away.com's "Are We There Yet?" blog hit up BP Pro Angler Guido Hibdon for his family-friendly recommendations for Americans planning a fishing excursion with their grandchildren (or vice versa) this year. There's no better way to get close to nature, not to mention getting precious time to connect with each other. Take it from Hibdon, a Gravois Hills, Missouri, resident and 30-year veteran of the sport, who says he now enjoys fishing even more because of the time it allows him to spend with his family, especially his son Dion, who travels with him during the tournament season.
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
Conveniently located in the heart of Missouri, the Lake of the Ozarks is referred to as the "Midwest's premier lake-resort destination" and it's an ideal setting for fun and fishing. Kids can catch bass and catfish almost year-round. And there is loads to do when you're not on the water, with the Ozarks boasting plentiful family-friendly lodging, lakefront dining, and attractions like miniature golf and horseback riding.
Truman Lake in Warsaw, Missouri
Hibdon takes his eight grandchildren to this summertime favorite at least once a year, as the lake is quite generous when it comes to bass and catfish: "You can sink a boat with all the catfish that is available on Lake Truman and it's a blast for kids. Last summer, my grandkids and I camped out for two days and caught a ton of catfish... we also picked-up some minor sunburns in the process," jokes Hibdon. Don't forget the insect repellent if you plan to venture to this spot, for mosquitoes, ticks, bees, and other insects fester around wet areas.
Bull Shoals-White River, Arkansas
This spot is ideal for young children, especially those who want to learn how to fly-fish and catch trout with a fly rod. "Most youngsters LOVE a fly rod and it takes an art to learn how to do it," says Hibdon. "But at Bull Shoals you can take the kids out and wade easier than other places as it's not too deep nor is the water too swift. Most of the time, this river is extremely suitable for younger children." Fishing on Bull Shoals Lake is known to be excellent year-round and it has a reputation as a water sports mecca with almost 1,000 miles of shoreline open to visitors who come to fish, scuba dive, houseboat, water ski, wakeboard, camp, and relax.
Lake Norman, North Carolina
There are many things for the kids to see on Lake Norman as it's in the thick of NASCAR country. Hibdon says that spotted bass are prevalent here but a bit more challenging to catch. "Quick movements and high-pitched sounds scare fish, so when you get young or old casters gathered on the water, make sure to whisper to each other," he recommends.
Venice, New Orleans
Visit Venice, just 75 miles south of New Orleans, Louisiana, where the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf. Reel in the redfish and introduce your child to many different species of fish including marlin, tuna, snapper, cobia, kingfish, tarpon, bass, and even sharks! "We caught so many redfish the last time I visited Venice, my wife could barely lift her arms to comb her hair," laughs Guido. "But seriously, this is a great place to take the kids as they'll have a pretty good chance of leaving with bragging rights."
Lake Falcon in Texas
If your teenage kids or grandkids are interested in catching a big fish and putting a trophy on the wall, then take them down to Lake Falcon, just south of Laredo, Texas. Located on the Rio Grande River in the south Texas counties of Zapata and Starr, Falcon is one of the largest lakes in Texas. As a "sport fishery," Falcon boasts a great history of big catches. Largemouth bass grow large and mean in the long warm-water seasons here in the southern part of the Lone Star State. "Adventurous youngsters can literally catch some monsters down there," Hibdon notes.
EAST COAST FISHIN'
Lake Champlain near Plattsburgh, New York
Surrounded by two of the East's most stunning mountain ranges, Lake Champlain is host to some of the best freshwater fishing spots in the country. And, according to Hibdon, "The real fun starts when you are reeling in the smallmouth bass on the Adirondack coast. Young anglers will have the chance to catch smallmouth bass until they are worn out. And while a three-pound bass will fight just as hard as a six-pounder, the thrill of the catch is what really intrigues the kids." Hibdon encourages recreational anglers to obey the catch-and-release rule, a practice within recreational fishing intended to conserve the fish population. After capture, unhook your fish and return it to the water.
GREAT LAKES OF THE MIDWEST
Lake Sinclair in Detroit, Michigan
Lake Sinclair resides near the "Motor City." This large body of water offers a multitude of smallmouth fishing for kids. But, before you tackle the drive, Hibdon also advises travelers to get the junk out of your trunk, so to speak, by leaving non-essential items at home to save fuel. He also suggests packing a long-handled fishnet; not just for netting fish, but in case you need to reach out into the water for a floating flip-flop or fishing pole.
Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron
"Saginaw Bay is one of the greatest smallmouth fisheries in the county and perfect for all generations of anglers due to its vast volume of water," exclaims Hibdon. Located near the Detroit River, the bay also provides easy access to marinas, golf courses, accommodations, and entertainment. And if your family does not own a boat, you can check out a charter service or fish from shore at certain locations.
Potomac River near Washington, D.C.
Known as the "Nation's River," the Potomac River flows through the capital, right down the state border where the Washington, D.C. monuments are reflected in its waters. "The Potomac has some of the best largemouth fishing in the country," says Hibdon. "It's also a great educational experience for gradeschool-age children as an opportunity to introduce the monuments and memorials of America's founding fathers. I took my grandkids there last year and they left with a valuable history lesson."
Visit Away.com's new Fishing Guide for more recommendations about the top destinations, gear, places to stay, photos, and more.
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