GetIN Outdoors: Go Fishing!

We are proud to present this web series, GetIN Outdoors. It’s a special 6-part series with the 2015 Ford Hoosier Outdoor Experience, a 2-day event {Sept 19-20} at Fort Harrison State Park that encourages families to try new outdoor activities together. Read the official announcement here and follow along with our blogger The Momista as her family previews some of the fun. Now is the time to be GetIN Outdoors!


There was a quote from the movie Catch And Release floating around in my head as we made our way through the State Fair crowd a few weeks ago:

“A lot of people seem to think the key piece of equipment is in the rod. But I’ve always felt the magic is in the hat…”

Whether or not the avid fisherman would agree, my son Hunter was furious with me for having left his hat behind. We were heading into the State Fair to meet up with Clint Kowalik {GoFishIN Coordinator with the Indiana Department Of Natural Resources} as research for this, our 4th post in the GetIN Outdoors web series. I could recall the precise spot in the backseat of the car where Hunter’s hat was last seen.
Coupled with an ornery 5-year-old {aren’t they all?}, I was flustered by the time we reached Clint. It was Day 14 of the State Fair, and I remember Clint usually looking a bit tired and crinkled around the eyes at this mark in years past. In his role as Go FishIN Coordinator, Clint oversees virtually every major DNR Division Of Fish & Wildlife fishing program including the State Fair Fishin’ Pond.
But there he was, jumping up from the volunteers table with a jolt and smile, beckoning us back.
“Wait, I remember Mr. Clint!” Hunter shouted. “He taught me how to fish at the camping thing this summer! The fish in Indiana belong to me. He told me that!”


To recap: You might recall the first post in our GetIN Outdoors series about basic family camping. During the Capital Campout event – a 2-day immersion in the outdoors – Clint commanded a group of 20 kids to teach them about fishing. And Hunter was remembering one of Clint’s favorite ‘bits’ for introducing fishing to newbie fishermen. Here, let me try it on you:
  • What does DNR stand for? {Answer: Department Of Natural Resources}
  • What are some of the natural resources in Indiana? {Answers: water, trees, grass, fish}
  • Who lives in Indiana? {Answer: I do.}
  • So who owns natural resources like the fish? Who owns the fish in Indiana? {Answer: I DO.}
Hunter has been enthralled with this concept since the Capital Campout. I own the fish in Indiana mom. So do you. Emerson and daddy too. 
Clint’s tactic is great: It creates ownership and an immediate connection for kids to the sport. It’s also this same enthusiasm that has grown the DNR’s Go FishIN programs from small community experiences to statewide opportunities:

Free fishing dates dot spring and summer calendars around the state thanks to the DNR.

“Family Learn To Fish” workshops designed to teach families the art of fishing together are offered at various community parks during the summer.

For families with a little experience under their belts, the DNR’s “Go FishIN In The City” program regularly stocks fish at easy-to-access ponds and lakes in urban city areas.

And visitors of the Indiana State Fair ages 5-17 are invited to the DNR Go FishIN pond like we were headed in to do: Learn some general mechanics of the sport, get paired with a volunteer and fish for 15 minutes. Kids are awarded with a cute fishing ‘license’. {Since the Fair has now ended, make sure you put this on your list for next year!}


I should have mentioned: All of these programs are offered for free.
The mission the DNR is rooted in is simple: To drive people outdoors to enjoy the natural resources of our state. Why have them and why have an entire governmental division dedicated to protecting them if no one is outside to enjoy them? Clint and the Division of Fish & Wildlife whole-heartedly live this mission.
It’s why fishing is an important element of the Ford Hoosier Outdoor Experience, and one of the most popular. It’s easy to teach, requires little equipment, and gives families all the basics they need to get started together. Fishing holes are easy to come by no matter where you live, and aside from a pole, line and bait, the only other investment needed is a license for fishers over the age of 17.


The kids were busy filling out their names on their new Kids Fishing Licenses as Clint and I wrapped up our chat.
“When did you first go fishing, Clint?” I asked him.
“I was 4. My dad took me. I’ve been hooked ever since.” He nudged me with a grin.
I repeat again: Day 14 of the State Fair and he still has a sense of humor.


Other posts in the GetIN Outdoors web series include:

Archery is family-friendly and FUN.

Remember when we learned how to throw an atlatl?

Here’s where we talked about the basics of camping.

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  1. I LOVE THIS! I don’t recall reading this before. Fun and fond memories flooded my way as I read! I have a big smile on my face as I type this comment. I recently left the DNR to start my own business “Go Fishin with Clint, LLC.” I plan to bring the same energy and enthusiasm in my new venture as I did at the events in this story.

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