You know the saying: Give a kid a fish, and maybe he'll eat it. But teach a kid to fish, and he'll want to go out to the water all of the time.

Well, it doesn't exactly go like that, but children often take to fishing like, well, you know the rest. States in the watershed may be cutting back on some of the fishing opportunities they once provided, but many private and nonprofit groups run fishing tournaments specifically geared for children. At these events, qualified instructors teach youngsters how to cast, use bait and take care of their equipment.

Some of these events draw 500 or more people, so arrive early to find a place to park. Some require a license in advance, or for participants to bring their own gear. Check the websites to determine if the event is canceled in the event of rain. And happy fishing!

Go fish! And here's where to learn how

  • Family & Youth Casting Call: 10 a.m.–3 p.m. May 4. Fletcher's Boat House, 4940 Canal Road NW, Washington, DC 20007. (Don't miss the turnoff; Fletcher's is a white boathouse, accessible from Canal Road via a steep, one-lane driveway.) Last year, instructors taught 700 kids how to fish. The instructors provide the equipment, and the setting along the C & O Canal provides the ambience. In between fishing, children can learn about fish and habitats, as well as participate in craft projects, scavenger hunts and outdoor education. Free. Contact:
  • Youth Fishing Day: 9 a.m.–1 p.m. June 8. Eastern Neck Wildlife Refuge, 1730 Eastern Neck Road, Headquarters Pond, Rock Hall, MD. Learn how to cast at Eastern Neck. This event is for children 15 and younger, who must be accompanied by an adult. Organizers will have a few rods available, but participants are encouraged to bring their own. After fishing, take a walk around the refuge and look for ospreys and eagles. Free. Contact:
  • Potomac Bass Youth Fishing Derby: 9 a.m.–12 p.m. June 2. Burke Lake Park, 7315 Ox Foad, Fairfax Station, VA 22039. The Potomac Bassmasters of Virginia have sponsored this event for 30 years with the hope of encouraging the children of the District of Columbia suburbs to appreciate fishing. They may not have the Chesapeake nearby, but they've got the Potomac and many parks with ponds that are stocked for fishing. Children may bring gear if they have it, but it will be provided for free for those who don't. At the end of the derby, all of the fish will be weighed and released. Children with the heaviest catches will receive prizes. Free; those who participate will receive a free gift. Contact:
  • Cross Fork Sportsmen's Association Annual Fishing Derby: 9 a.m.–12 p.m. (Fish at 10 a.m.) May 25. Pennsylvania's Kettle Creek Valley is the site of a childen's fishing derby organized by the Cross Fork Sportsmen Club. The fishing areas are stocked with trout and youths generally line both sides of Cross Fork Bridge for an opportunity to catch some. Free; although a $7 donation is appreciated. Contact: Ed Halerz at or 570-923-2708. To learn about the many camping and cabin opportunities nearby, visit