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Hunter and Lynn Fitzgerald show off a largemouth bass they caught together on a recent fishing trip in the Park Rapids area. Next weekend's Take-a-Kid Fishing event invites adults to entertain kids on the water, despite the need for a current fishing license. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Take a kid, or kids, fishing next weekend

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Next weekend marks a highly anticipated Minnesota angling event; the annual Take-A-Kid Fishing Weekend.

Minnesotans who have yet to net their fishing license catch a break June 10-12 when they can fish without a license while accompanying a child age 15 or younger.

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According to a Department of Natural Resources press release, Minnesota's annual Take-A-Kid Fishing Weekend aims to help keep the state's fishing tradition strong by encouraging adults and kids to share an angling experience on or along the state's thousands of lakes, rivers and streams.

"Many kids would love to go fishing - they just need to be asked," said Mike Kurre, Minnesota DNR mentoring coordinator. "For adults, this is the one time of year when they can do just that without having to have a fishing license. If you've never hooked this opportunity before, go for it."

Kurre says it's hard to underestimate the importance of today's adults on tomorrow's angling community.

"Most people who fish do so because they received an invitation long ago," said Kurre. "That's the natural path. It's the way friends and families continue the fishing tradition."

Kurre said the DNR's website includes much helpful fishing information, including the location of fishing piers. Local bait shops can also offer good advice on where to take a child fishing.

Kurre urges adults unable to participate in this year's official Take-A-Kid Fishing Weekend to still consider inviting a youth to go fishing. The cost of an annual resident fishing license is just $17, he said, and valid through April 30, 2012.

"Why not make every weekend take a kid fishing weekend?" said Kurre.

Interested in getting a child out on the water? You may need a couple key items and ideas in your arsenal.

First off, keep things simple. There's no need to land a trophy walleye or massive muskie, just a somewhat consistent catch rate. You see, kids (and some adults for that matter) become fidgety, irritated and impatient when the fish don't regularly show themselves, so start small, both in target species and bait selection. Yet you'd be surprised at how many northerns and bass are caught on tiny crappie or bluegill jigs.

Next, make a game-plan and don't stick to it. That's right, I said "don't". Take a little extra time at the bait shop picking out an extra lure, use extra precaution at the launch ramp, and ensure the details are covered (such as how bathroom issues will be resolved.)

Finally, plan for the worst. It's irresponsible to take a child out fishing in foul weather and is equally thoughtless to avoid having them wear a personal floatation device. It's the law if the child is 10 or under.

And, as Mike Kurre stated, don't simply rely upon Minnesota's Take-A-Kid Fishing weekend to offer opportunity to get someone out on the water.

There are plenty of kids, adults and senior citizens who would love to cast a line into the lake; they simply need the chance to go.

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