Fishin' for a good time
North Carolinians are often drawn to the water during the summer, whether that's a pool, the ocean or the state's many lakes and rivers.
With the exception of pools, some people taking an aquatic break also are undoubtedly bringing a fishing pole and tackle box with them.
That was the case Thursday at San-Lee Park, where about a dozen developmentally disabled adults gathered in the late afternoon to try their hand at fishing. John Payne, director of Lee County Parks and Recreation, is in a Kiwanis club that works with the group; every year, he invites them to fish at the park.
Wendy Laster, a caregiver for the disabled women at Sanford's Lanier Home, said the ladies mostly love fishing, and that they try to give them something to do around town most days.
"Were actually doing something everything almost every night ... ," Laster said. "I'm actually more active with them than I am when I'm at home."
Fishing is a fun way to relax or socialize, said San-Lee Park Ranger Steve Godfrey. The park has a lending program allowing any county resident to borrow a fishing pole and tackle box for free — in fact, Godfrey started it when he joined the park in 1983 — and he said it's a great, yet relatively unknown, perk of living in Lee County.
"It used to be people with private ponds would let anybody fish," he said, adding that years of litter problems put a stop to that practice.
And the program also has grown recently to include electronic equipment for disabled people to fish. None of the adults fishing Thursday was in a wheelchair, but Godfrey said the park could've still equipped them if they were. The rod attaches to a wheelchair and only requires one hand for casting; he said about five people in Lee County use it.
And for the rest, there's still the normal lending program.
"The nice thing about the rod and reel [lending] program is we're one of only a couple places in Lee County where the public can fish," Godfrey said.
For children, the only caveat to the free program is that a parent must sign a registration form. People older than 16 must also have a fishing license, as mandated by the state.
Except on July 4, the state's Free Fishing Day, fishing licenses are required for everyone 16 and up. The state has many different licenses, including:
* $5 for a 10-day inland (non-coastal) license.
* $10 for an annual inland license, only good in one county.
* $15-$20 for annual inland licenses for all North Carolina counties.
* $35 for an annual license for both inland and coastal fishing.
* Free: an annual license for both inland and coastal fishing, for all state residents who receive Medicaid, Food Stamps or Work First Family Assistance.
Licenses can be purchased online at www.ncwildlife.org or in various local stores. The N.C. Wildlife website also has rules and regulations for fishing in North Carolina, as well as more information.
In Lee County, public fishing spots are at San-Lee Park and the Avent's Ferry Bridge.
San-Lee Park, located off Pumping Station Road, has sunfish, largemouth bass and channel catfish. Avent's Ferry Bridge and boat ramp, located on N.C. 42 about 1.2 miles west of the intersection of N.C. 42 and Corinth Road in northeast Lee County, has catfish, largemouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass and sunfish.
Nearby, Raven Rock State Park has some fishing areas in Harnett County, Jordan Lake and the Haw River have many fishing spots in Chatham County. Luke Marion Park has fishing in Moore County, just south of Carthage. Shearon Harris Reservoir has two spots in southern Wake County.