Anietra Hamper teaches us how to go fishing.

The smell of worms during spring rains always reminds me of fishing. It takes me back to my grandparents' cottage at Grand Lake St. Mary's in Ohio as a 3-year-old girl when rain meant worms and time to fish.

While the ground was still wet, my grandpa handed me an old coffee tin and sent me off to collect nightcrawlers. Surrounding the cottage were logs from old barns that lined the edge of the property. With my tiny fingers, I scooped up the biggest worms I could find beneath them.

Once I filled my worm bucket, grandpa would take me fishing with my very own cane pole. Once I was old enough to understand responsibility in handling the pole, baiting my own hook, removing the fish and collecting my gear, Grandpa bought me a reel rod.

Fishing for crappie in the early morning, sunfish midday and catfish at night became a passion for me. Because the love of fishing was instilled in me at an early age, it is an integral part of who I am today.

I have since traded my cane poles for larger poles suitable for the kinds of large fish I always wanted to catch as a kid. The multitasker in me enjoys casting out a pole equipped with a bell for bottom-feeding catfish while using another pole to fish near the bank.

Because of my love and respect for nature, I always catch and release. I encourage those who are fishing for a meal to only take home what they will eat.

For some people it is hard to imagine a girly girl like me to be such an outdoors and fishing enthusiast. While I have no problem donning hiking boots, jeans and a towel on my pants to wipe the worm dirt, I have to admit there is always room in the tackle box for a tube of lipstick.

What I love most about fishing is that you do not have to go anywhere special to do it. I encourage kids to put down their video games and spend time outdoors.

That time in nature is a moment to step away from everyday and reconnect with family.

To this day when it rains, I smell worms. Not a raindrop goes by that I do not relish the memory of how the fisherwoman in me came to be.



Getting Started: Fishing License

• Anyone over the age of 16 fishing in Ohio is required by law to have a license on them at all times.

• Cost: $19. A one-day license can be purchased for $11 which can be applied to a full license at a later date.

• Fishing licenses can be purchased online at ohiodnr.com. They can also be purchased at large retailers like Wal-Mart and Meijer as well as some drugstores like Discount Drug Mart and at bait shops.



Where to fish:

• Ponds, rivers, lakes and streams as long as they are not on private property.

• Antrim Lake is stocked with trout several times a year and is a popular spot for fishermen of all ages.

• The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has a list of fishing locations available on-line. Go to ohiodnr.com and look for the fishing maps.

• Columbus Metro Parks often holds fishing programs for kids in many of their 16 parks.

Always know your surroundings. While I like to stumble on great fishing holes, I always make sure someone knows where I am and that I have my cell phone accessible.



Tips for Parents:

• Fishing can mean long hours in the sun. Be sure to wear sunscreen, protective clothing and insect repellent.

• Target areas with a likelihood of success. When kids catch something on their first outing, they are more likely to look forward to it again. Sign up to receive the ODNR weekly fishing report by e-mail that spotlights what kinds of fish are biting in specific rivers and lakes.

• Bring snacks and drinks to keep everyone energized, happy and hydrated. Granola bars, crackers and peanut butter and jelly are fisherman's favorites.

• Pack a camera! The kids will love the snapshots of their catch and you will love the memories.

• Pack your patience. You will certainly be untangling lines, dealing with the disappointment of the ones that got away, and getting dirty. It is all a part of the experience and the fish stories the kids get to share will be worth it.

Anatomy of a Tackle Box

Nothing ruins a fishing trip faster than running out of supplies.

So, if you plan to do any amount of fishing, a tackle box is a good idea. You can get away with stocking the basics for under $15 and add on as your needs and interests develop. While we chose locally owned The Old Dutchman bait shop for our pricing, you can find similar items at most stores that sell outdoor goods. The Old Dutchman is located at 904 S. Sunbury Rd., Westerville, 614-891-2653.

Bobbers

Bobbers come in virtually every shape and size. I recommend buying several. It is not uncommon to lose bobbers when you get tangled in bushes or rocks. Traditional round clip-on bobbers go for 70 cents. You can find colorful stand-up clip-on bobbers for $1.15. Personal preference is your guide for choosing.

Sinkers

Sinkers do just that they sink your bait. You will go through many of these. Split-shot sinkers come 125 in a bag for $1.69. The small size is the most universal and suitable for beginners. You simply pinch them onto your fishing line.

Hooks

These are a tackle must-have! The Eagle Claw size 4 is a good basic hook that will serve most of your needs for the sunfish- and bluegill-size fish you will find in Central Ohio. You can get a 10-count bag for $2.25. I would recommend you get a simple lesson on how to tie on a hook from the salesperson as that will come in handy the first time a fish breaks your line.

Bait

You can select your bait based on the kinds of fish you want to catch, but there are a few basic baits that will work well for a wide range of fish. Nightcrawlers go for $2.50 a dozen. Often the worms are so large you can cut them in half and double your bait. Or, you can go for the small worms for $3.50 for 30. Wax worms are smaller and work great for smaller-mouth fish. Wax worms go for $2.50 for a 50-count container.

Tackle Box

A tackle box is any box that can hold your essential items. A small box can go for as little as $4. You want to pick out your essential items, then fit them into a box that is suitable with a little room for growth. You can always upgrade as your needs change.

Optional Items

A small knife is recommended to cut tangled line or worms. And do not forget the sunscreen, insect repellent and basic first-aid items. These are not essential, but they will keep you prepared for the unexpected.