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Fishing 101 (JHARVNC)

TopicOutdoor Skills - Fishing
Wildlife - Fish
Fishing + kids = plenty of fun!  Participants will be instructed in fishing basics. They will be shown how to rig, bait and cast their lines. In addition, they will set a hook and learn how to properly handle and release a fish once it is landed. If time allows, participants can practice the technique themselves.
Grade LevelPre K - 12
Recommended SettingWells Lake
LocationJanet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, Fort Smith
Education Program Coordinator, 479-452-3993
Duration45 minutes - 1 hour
Suggested Number of ParticipantsUp to 25
  • Demonstrate ability to handle fishing equipment safely and correctly
  • Demonstrate skill in releasing a catch with minimal effect on the fish
  • Participants with no experience fishing will be introduced to a new sport that they can enjoy for a lifetime.


Fish identification guides

Fishing poles (cane poles or rods and spinning reels)

Outfitted tackle boxes (tackle will depend on fishing site)


Fishing has long been a favored past time for sportsmen around the world, and Arkansas waters provide plenty of fishing spots. Good fishermen have a basic understanding of the fish types found in aquatic habitats, rigging techniques, baits and the proper way to release a fish.

  1. Find out how many participants in the group have fished before. Ask them where, what kind of fish they caught, who took them. Allow a few in the group to share their favorite fishing story.
  2. Explain where participants will be fishing. Hold up the equipment and indicate the parts. 
  3. If you will be using rods with reels, determine how many of your group will need instruction and practice in casting. If the number is relatively high, you may want them to tie on a practice plug and allow them to practice the technique.
  4. Some sessions will begin with rods that are ready to use, while longer sessions may include instruction in tying the hook. If necessary, demonstrate how to tie on the hook (and bobber, if one is to be used), and allow time for practice.
  5. Discuss the types of fish they can expect to catch and the type of bait needed.  Show them how to bait the hook.
  6. Demonstrate how to release a fish.
  7. Before going to the fishing hole, go over some basic safety tips such as ensuring no one is behind you when you cast, entering the water only with specific permission, etc.
  8. When you feel your group is prepared, lead them to the fishing site and let them catch fish!

Note:  An adequate ratio of supervisors to children is about one to every four to six participants. Older, more experienced groups will require less supervision. Waders are available for these older groups if requested by their leader. Caution participants to avoid swift, deep water when in waders.

  • Arkansas Sport Fish Identification Pocket Guide. Outdoor Empire Publishing, 2005.
  • Arkansas Fishing Guidebook 2008. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
  • The Freshwater Angler: Panfish. Creative Publishing International.
  • The Freshwater Angler:  Fishing for Catfish. Creative Publishing International.
  • Lessley, Sloan H.  Beginner’s Fishing Guide. Aquatic Resources Education (ARE) Program, Fisheries Division.
  • Robison, Henry W. and Thomas M. Buchanan. Fishes of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas Press.
  • Schmidt, Bob, 1991. Sport Fishing and Aquatic Resources Handbook. Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.