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Free fishing weekend across Ohio

Ohioans are encouraged to take advantage of "Free Fishing Days" on May 7th and 8th and experience the great fishing Ohio has to offer, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife. For these two days only, Ohio anglers may fish in any of the state's public waters (including Indian Lake) without having to buy a fishing license.

During the rest of the year, anglers 16 years of age and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters. An Ohio fishing license is one of the best recreation bargains available, costing only $19 a year for residents.

Ohio residents born on or before December 31, 1937 can obtain a free fishing license at any license vendor. Residents age 66 and older who were born on or after January 1, 1938 are eligible to obtain a reduced cost ($10) senior fishing license. A one-day fishing license is also available for $11, an amount that later can be applied toward the cost of an annual fishing license. Fishing licenses are available at bait and tackle stores, outdoor outfitters, major department stores, as well as on the Internet at wildohio.com.

Ohio's Free Fishing Days were established in 1993 to promote fishing and allow Ohioans to experience fishing before buying a license. The offer is open to Ohio residents, and extends to all public waters including Lake Erie and the Ohio River. An estimated 1.3 million people fish each year in Ohio.

Great fishing exists around the state and throughout the year. In late winter and early spring, anglers reel in excellent catches of steelhead trout and walleye from northern Ohio streams. Spring also means great saugeye and crappie fishing. During the summer months, the fishing heats up on Lake Erie for yellow perch, walleye, and smallmouth bass, while anglers on the Ohio River enjoy excellent striped bass fishing.

The Free Fishing Free Days weekend offers Ohioans of all ages the chance to experience the fun of fishing. For anyone taking a young angler, there's nothing more rewarding than teaching a kid to fish.  Here are some helpful tips:

Keep it simple. Consider the child's age and skill level. If this is their first time, shore fishing is recommended.

Kids like to catch fish. The size of fish doesn't matter to kids. But catching a fish—any fish—does. Choose a pond, lake or stream where they will easily be able to catch a few fish.

Use simple tackle. A good rod and reel for kids costs between $15 and $30.  A spin-cast reel is easy to use and, after a few practice casts, kids usually have mastered it.

Bring along a camera. Children love to show off pictures of their "big catch." Share your fishing photos at wildohio.com.

Keep the trip fun-and short. Let the child have a good time, even if it means taking a break. Take time out to explore and enjoy the time together.

Be patient. Plan on spending some time untangling lines, baiting hooks, landing fish, and taking pictures of big smiles and wiggling fish. By concentrating all your attention on your young angler, you'll likely be developing a fishing buddy for a lifetime.

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