CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Springtime is a good time to take the family fishing, says a West Virginia wildlife biologist. The spring of 2014 may be especially so, thanks to a long, snowy winter. Bret Preston, the assistant chief of warmwater fisheries for the W.Va. Division of Natural Resources, reckoned that adequate precipitation and temperatures have made for an exceptional season.
Fish may be more active as a result of optimal water temperatures, Preston said, and it's likely the whole family will be more than happy to get out and enjoy the warm weather. "It's going to be a good spring for just getting out and fishing," he said, adding that crappie, an excellent frying pan fish, is particularly plentiful in spring.
"It's a good time to get out on the water and get your kids fishing," Preston said, and he suggested that the fishing industry might sometimes lose sight of the family aspect of the sport.
Though many anglers and most biologists would steer clear of predictions for an upcoming catch, Preston said that fish are more active in cool water, and the tough winter could provide a supply of cool water that keeps fish active and feeding longer. Once waters warm, they're more likely to quiet their activity.
And what better way to end a day of fishing than by eating the catch? Crappie, thankfully, a favorite freshwater panfish, is particularly plentiful and active in spring and is also easy to clean, Preston said. Families should also consider casting into the tailwaters below dams on the Ohio River this spring, where sauger are likely to be biting.
Five Tips for Family Fishing Trips
Ready to plan a family fishing trip? The following four tips may help. Be sure to visit our guides to Favorite Fish Species for a list of optimum fishing waters and our guides to lake and stream stocking for a stocking schedule. If you'd like to share some of your own tips for family fishing, we'll feature them in an upcoming report. Please select Contact Us to reach the editorial department and submit your own fishing tips.
Prepare to keep children busy
Fishing can quickly become less adventurous and more mundane and "grown-up." Don't plan to catch fish; plan to teach children to cast, to coil a line, to attach a bobber. Incorporate other activities such as tubing, snorkeling, or wildlife observation. Quiet and patience may not come naturally.
Ask kids to do their research
Children are more able than ever to hop online and help determine how best to find their quary. Ask them to research safety measures to be taken when fishing from a bank or from a boat. Ask children to determine what kinds of fish might be found in which waters.
Plan to include other children
Children are likely to have fun when other children are in tow, so invite them to bring a friend or several friends, and invite one of the other parents along to help. Try combining the trip with an overnight camp-out or another expedition, such as a visit to a park.
Lure them in with lures
Children are sometimes fascinated with the seemingly endless variety of flies and lures. Use the opportunity to share with them the relationship between fish and their prey. Make a game of it, allowing them to guess which lures might appeal to which species under which conditions.
For more information, visit our growing compendium of fishing information at Fishing in West Virginia.