Last week we were getting ready to do a little rock collecting, and I told you that I’d let you know how the trip turned out. But I’m going to put that off for a little while in order to let you know about what’s coming up on Saturday, Sept. 28.
It’s National Hunting and Fishing Day, and that means a great opportunity for you and your family to learn about a wide range of outdoor activities you can enjoy for years to come!
Always held on the fourth Saturday in September, this day features a variety of activities statewide designed to let folks of all ages (but especially kids) discover just how much fun the outdoors can be. A number of those activities are within easy day trip distance of where you live, too, so there’s no excuse for not getting out there and having some fun — and perhaps discovering activities you can enjoy with your family for years to come.
National Hunting and Fishing Day got its start in 1973 when the U.S. Congress and President Richard Nixon set aside a day to recognize generations of hunters and anglers for the time and money they donate to wildlife conservation programs. The idea quickly caught on, and today you’ll find special NHFD events from border to border and coast to coast.
“National Hunting and Fishing Day events are a great way to introduce youth and newcomers to outdoor activities, while also helping them learn about the important role that hunting and fishing plays in conservation,” notes Rusty Garrison, director of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. “These events are family-oriented and fun, with educational hands-on activities that everyone will enjoy.”
I’m a great believer in getting young people involved in the outdoors, and NHFD provides a perfect way to make that happen. What kind of events can you expect? Here’s a quick look at what will be going on.
Kids’ Fishing Events
One of my favorite things about NHFD is Georgia’s great line-up of NHFD “Kids’ Fishing Events.” Talk about fun! Designed especially for younger anglers, these exciting happenings give kids the chance to try some fishing with experienced anglers on hand to help. The closest Kids’ Fishing Event to where I live will take place at Lower Pool Park on the Chattahoochee River, right below Buford Dam, from 9 a.m. till 1 p.m., and the focus will be on trout! There will be plenty of volunteers on hand to help with baiting hooks and unhooking fish — and yes, there will be plenty of fish too. In fact, the DNR’s Buford Trout Hatchery plans to stock 2,500 trout in the area that morning. A limited number of loaner poles will be available, but if you have your own it’s a good idea to bring it.
Another Kids’ Fishing Event is scheduled to be held at the Marben Public Fishing Area’s Clubhouse Pond at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center east of Atlanta. There, the quarry will be catfish. Loaner poles may be available there, too, but (again) the sure bet is to bring your own.
Outdoor Adventure Days
Where will I be on Outdoor Adventure Day? I’m planning to mosey on up to Unicoi State Park near Helen, where I’ll be one of many volunteers from many parts of the outdoor community. Our job will be to show kids and their families something of the depth and breadth of outdoor activities in Georgia. That sounds formal, doesn’t it? But mostly it’s just fun!
At Unicoi, the Outdoor Adventure Day program line-up covers a wide array of outdoor activities. Want to learn to cast a fly rod? You’ll have a chance, guided by experts. Want to try your hand at skeet shooting? That’s on the agenda too. So are archery and air gun shooting. You’ll also enjoy live animal shows and more.
And where will I be? Look for me in the fly tying area, where I’ll be having a blast teaching kids (and maybe even an adult or two!) to tie a fly for fishing. I look forward to this every year, and I don’t know who has more fun, the kids or me. If you make it to the Unicoi event, be sure to stop by and say hello!
Unicoi’s Outdoor Adventure Day is free, but Unicoi State Park does have a $5 daily parking fee.
Another Outdoor Adventure Day in the north Georgia area is scheduled for James H. “Sloppy” Floyd State Park (between Rome and Summerville, just off U.S. 27). Events currently on the schedule for that event include more fishing (but not for trout) as well as archery, BB shooting, canoeing, live animal displays, a snake show and a climbing wall.
As at Unicoi State Park, the event is free, but there is a $5 daily parking fee at the park.
And a free fishing day too!
Even if you can’t make it to one of these special events, you can still get in on the fun thanks to what’s known as a “free fishing day” offered to all Georgia residents that Saturday, Sept. 28. On this day, residents do NOT need a fishing license or a trout license to fish on any public waters in the state. That includes lakes, streams, ponds and public fishing areas. This is a great time to sample the waters of Georgia fishing, so to speak, even if you don’t have a fishing license — or for even more fun, grab your kids and their friends and take them along too! Thank you, Georgia DNR, for making this possible!
For more information on National Hunting and Fishing Day in Georgia, including a complete listing of all events in the state, visit georgiawildlife.com/get-involved/nhfday.