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It's Take-A-Kid Fishing weekend ... and it's free

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." ~ Author unknown

This weekend, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is giving Minnesota families a chance to discover fishing - with as little hassle as possible. While the DNR is not handing out bait or fishing rods, what they are doing is waiving the fishing license requirement for any Minnesotan (16 or older) fishing with a child aged 15 or younger.

"This is a great opportunity to discover fishing," said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. "Fishing is one of the easiest and most-accessible outdoor activities in Minnesota."

Getting started is easy. After all, this is the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Find, borrow or buy a fishing rod, dig up some worms and you're off. You don't even need a boat.

John Bednarek, co-owner of Outdoor Advantage in Cloquet, shared a few of the area hotspots for shore fishing, keeping in mind that this weekend's free fishing is geared toward children and teenagers.

"Chub Lake is a great place to take kids," Bednarek said. "They can catch pan fish and crappies from the shore, even the occasional walleye."

Other places Bednarek recommended include the following:

- In Cloquet, along the shoreline of the St. Louis River behind the Cloquet hospital.

"You can catch almost anything there, from turtles on up," he said.

- The fishing dock in Moose Lake, not far from the main road through town.

- Highway 23, specifically Boy Scout Landing near Gary-New Duluth. However, Bednarek noted there are good spots all along Highway 23 that are good for shore fishing - just look for the garbage receptacles.

For those who lack basic equipment or who want some expert instruction, Jay Cooke State Park outside Carlton is offering its "I Can Fish" program from 1-3 p.m. every Sunday, starting this weekend and running through Sept. 5.

Participants don't need to register in advance for this free program, just meet at the River Inn Visitor Center at 1 p.m. Learn the basics of fishing, fish identification and angling tips and tricks first, then take your new skills and spend a little time fishing on the shore of the river in the park. Equipment and bait are provided. The program is free, but all vehicles entering the park need a state park vehicle permit. A day permit costs $5 or an annual permit for all parks can be purchased for $25.

Busy this weekend? Even when it's not Take-A-Kid Fishing weekend, Minnesota residents may fish in a state park without a fishing license provided the body of water does not require a trout stamp. Anglers also must fish from shore or wade in water within the state park or from a boat or a float on a designated lake within a Minnesota state park. Thirty of Minnesota's 66 state parks (including Jay Cooke) offer loaner fishing equipment that can be used within the park when visiting.

"Fishing is one of the easiest and most-accessible outdoor activities in Minnesota," Kurre said. "Take a kid fishing and, come the end of the trip, you're both likely to be hooked."