If you read this column on Sunday, I will be out fishing, and come to think of it, I hope you will be too.

Ask 20 anglers when the best time to go fishing is, and you’re likely to get 20 different answers. Everyone has their favorite time: when the smelt are running, when the fiddleheads are sprouting, when the moon is full, when there is no moon, when the tide is high, when the tide is low, before a storm, after a storm. Well, you get the picture.

Truth is, if pressed hard enough, most anglers can’t think of a bad time to go fishing. No matter what the weather or time of year or day, most anglers can relate to you some measure of success they had in fishing this type of weather at this particular time of year.

Which brings us back to today, the last day of Maine’s summer free fishing weekend. Isn’t time you introduced someone to the sport of fishing? Or perhaps you can rekindle a passion for fishing in someone who lately has been too busy or doesn’t have access to a boat or even the opportunity to go fishing anymore.

Consider the benefits of teaching someone to fish.

It teaches people about conservation. You learn about aquatic ecology and the ecosystem of a waterway. It teaches and reinforces such qualities as persistence, dedication, discipline and patience. It can be both relaxing and exciting. And it is rewarding.

Along with these benefits, the recreational fishing industry supports jobs, whether it’s the bait and tackle shop where you purchase supplies or the spots where you buy gas or go out to eat on your fishing trip. It often provides jobs in rural areas, where there are fewer economic opportunities.

Fishing also sustains a wonderful natural resource.

Say what you want about the federal government, but they did get this part right. A small portion of the price that you pay for fishing equipment and supplies goes back to the government and then is redistributed to the states by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based on the number of fishing license holders in the state.

This money goes way beyond just stocking fish. It funds the purchase of land that people enjoy for fishing, hiking, hunting and wildlife watching. It funds water access sites such as boat ramps and carry-in sites. It pays biologists, who monitor fish populations and enhance recreational fisheries. It also funds the Maine Warden Service, which protects our fisheries and provides search and rescue services for people lost on the woods and waters of this state.

As I said earlier, I will be out fishing today, enjoying a day out the water with my son and daughter, along with my dad and some other family members and friends. For more than 20 years now, members of our family have traveled over a maze of logging roads, then made the last leg of the journey by boat to an old logging camp that is now a Maine sporting camp.

A small group that began with my dad, myself and my brother-in-law is now a group that totals nine anglers, including three members of a third generation who weren’t even born when we first started fishing there.

During our 20-plus years, we have had some great days and, of course, some not-so-great days. We have fished in springtime weather when the mercury hit 90, and we have been there when it was spitting snowflakes.

We’ve persevered through graduations, reunions, pregnancies, career changes, weddings, work deadlines and other inconveniences. It is an event that each year we look forward to with great anticipation, and when we are together on the other days, we often reminisce about years past.

But it didn’t start there. I was fortunate to have a dad who introduced me to fishing before kindergarten. I still have vivid memories of those opening days, my dad waking me up when it was still dark, hopping in the family wagon, then walking down an embankment illuminated by a dim flashlight in order to get to the best spot before anyone else.

We’d wait patiently until daylight, when it became legal to fish, then would enjoy a fantastic morning. I remember catching fish, and I also remember days when we didn’t catch fish, but I remember them all.

Looking back, it was the time that my dad spent with me fishing that go me hooked on the outdoor world.

So today, or sometime in the near future, start your own tradition and take someone fishing.

Mark Latti is a former public information officer for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and a registered Maine Guide. He can be reached at:

[email protected]