School’s out: Where to take the kids fishing
Less screen time; more water time
Special to the Daily
Schools are getting out from an unusual year.
COVID-19 threw everyone for a ride last year. The surprising rise in popularity of fishing experienced last summer is expected to continue. As a part of that trend children are being introduced to fishing, but the kids can’t teach themselves.
It’s time to teach the little ones how to fish.
Why would you want to teach a kid to fish? The reasons are many. Fishing is a lifelong pursuit. Kids that are actively engaged in fishing or fly fishing are less likely to get into mischief with lasting repercussions.
Fishing teaches one way to appreciate nature and how to protect it. Kids learn pride from providing food that they caught.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife have annual “free fishing” days June 5-6. These are free fishing days in Colorado and require no fishing license, a great time to teach kids how to fish.
In Eagle County there are safe, easily accessible still waters like ponds and lakes from one side to the other. The Black Lakes on the eastern edge of the county, Nottingham Lake in Avon and Gypsum Ponds SWA on the western side of Eagle County are three of the local spots where kids can learn to fish. Lakes take the difficulty kids have with wading out of the equation.
Black Lakes are located on Vail Pass. There is plenty of parking along the upper lake and in between the two lakes. A handicap fishing dock is situated near the dam on Black Lake No. 1. The paved bike path leads anglers downhill to Black Lake N0o. 2. Black Lake No.1 is much larger at a little over 27 acres than No. 2 that has a little over 9 acres.
In the mid-valley town of Avon is Nottingham Lake. With parking all around the lake anglers with kids can easily access this sweet little oasis. Nottingham is the lake where I started teaching kids to fish in 1999. A sandy beach on the northside and new kids park on the eastside help young, disinterested anglers occupy time.
Gypsum Ponds SWA just off of Interstate 70 in the town of Gypsum provides kid anglers with a couple ponds stocked with a large variety of fish from rainbow trout to small-mouth bass, bluegills and crappie. Parking at the large lake in Gypsum places anglers lakeside where a partially paved bank path leads anglers around the lake.
This same path continues on over a metal footpath bridge and to the smaller second lake. A large island is located in the second lake. As a State Wildlife Area anyone using Gypsum Ponds needs to have a hunting or fishing license to recreate on SWA land.
Guides are a resource
The absolute best way to navigate the difficult situation of teaching a young kid to fish is with a professional guide. Guides know how to tie knots and teach them to kids. They know how to talk to kids in a learning situation.
Now don’t get me wrong, not all guides can teach kids. But ask those questions when booking a guide and present your desires and goals for the trip honestly.
Guides possess a tremendous amount of information about the local environment. They are specialists in natural science with extensive knowledge around the health of the watershed and the life cycle of insects. Professional guides know how to teach everything about fishing.
Look ahead to June 5-6 and get your kids ready for an adventure on one of our local still waters. Teaching kids to fish leads to a lifetime of angling opportunities. Whether it is Black Lakes on Vail Pass, Nottingham Lake in Avon or the popular Gypsum Ponds SWA along Interstate 70, kids need time on the water with a fishing rod in their hands.
Michael Salomone moved to the Eagle River valley in 1992. He began guiding fly-fishing professionally in 2002. His freelance writing has been published in numerous magazines and websites including; Southwest Fly Fishing, Fly Rod & Reel, Eastern Fly Fishing, On the Fly mag, FlyLords, the Pointing Dog Journal, Upland Almanac, the Echo website, Vail Valley Anglers and more. He lives on the bank of the Eagle River with his wife, Lori; two daughters, Emily and Ella; and a brace of yellow labrador retrievers.