Summer Fun

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Seine fishing is educational and fun

An afternoon spent fishing calls to mind a rod, reel and tackle box full of lures. However, fishing takes on many forms -- including seine fishing. Using a net to collect and catalog marine species can be an enjoyable and educational family activity.

Seine fishing utilizes a dragnet, or a "seine," to collect fish. These nets hang vertically in the water and are weighed down underneath. The top edge of the seine is buoyed by floats. Seine nets can be deployed from boats or from the shore. Larger seine nets are used in many forms of commercial fishing to catch large quantities of a particular species of fish. But seine nets also come in smaller varieties. These are typically manned by two people wearing hip waders. Both people take an edge of the net, walk out a few feet into shallow water at the shore, then pull the net back in toward the beach to create a pocket in which marine life is corralled. The fish and other creatures may be observed on the shore or collected and viewed in water-filled containers.

Seine fishing also is a great way to catch small species of fish for bait, rather than purchasing them from bait stores. But when done in a catch-and-release method, seine fishing is usually a way for adults and children to learn about various types of local marine life. Seine fishing at different times of the year may yield different catches, providing another opportunity to educate kids and even adults about the ever-changing habitat of the ocean.

Wildlife conservation groups frequently employ seine fishing to observe and catalog underwater life. This provides important insight into which species are flourishing and which ones may be impacted by coastal or environmental changes. Comparing data from year to year will paint a picture of the health of oceans, lakes and other bodies of water.

Some groups offer seine fishing instruction to the public through a conservation center or a municipal beach or parks department. If you cannot find a seine fishing program, it can be quite easy to teach yourself. According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, seines come in many sizes. For the amateur fishing enthusiast, a seine measuring 10 feet long and five feet high with 3/16-inch mesh will adequately capture many small fish in shallow pools. Check with your local fish and wildlife department before seine fishing, which may require a permit or a fishing license before entering the water.

Children often find seine fishing to be a fun activity. Seeing what the net has captured can be exciting, and kids are often eager to look and feel the creatures that have been pulled to shore. Use care to handle marine animals safely. Crabs can pinch fingers, and some species of fish may have barbs. Jellyfish may or may not be poisonous. It's advised to seine fish with an experienced marine biologist or a person knowledgeable about local marine wildlife. Fish and other animals should not be squeezed, as they can be injured. Afterward, all animals should be carefully returned to the water.

Seine fishing is an activity that people of all ages can enjoy. It provides information about local marine wildlife, helping educate people about the beaches and water around them.

Gadsden Times