Fishing with kids is a great way to teach them patience and get them close to nature. With beginners, though, you’ll want the perfect spot where they have a good chance of catching something and have other things to do in case they lose interest. Most people tell me, “I want to know where to go fishing near me,” but that’s not always the best choice.
You’ll also need some fishing gear. If your kids have never tried fishing before, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of money, or any at all. Check out some of the free fishing days sponsored by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. They host several days each year where you don’t need to purchase a fishing license AND in some cases, they’ll have kids’ fishing derby and learn to fish events where they provide the equipment for you!
If you’re interested in trying fishing and not spending a lot of money, here are two fishing setups we’ve used from Amazon (affiliate links). This one is just a fishing pole and this one is a whole junior fishing kit.
10 Central Indiana Places to go Fishing
These 10 places all across the Indianapolis area feature great fishing along with amenities such as restrooms, playgrounds, splash pads, and more! And don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Free Fishing Days in Indiana. There are four days each year when residents do not need a fishing license to fish on DNR properties. Otherwise, anyone 18 or older needs a fishing license to fish.
Freedom Park Pond
850 W. Stop 18 Road, Greenwood, 46143
On the south end of Freedom Park, past the bridge and along the walking trail, you’ll find the Freedom Park Pond. At a recent Virtual Fishing Derby hosted by the Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department, kids caught bluegill and large bass. The grand prize was saved for the person who caught the elusive albino catfish, but no one was able to catch him at this event. When the kids tire of fishing, Freedom Park also offers tennis courts, basketball courts, disc golf, two playgrounds, and a picnic shelter.
Krannert Pond at Krannert Park
605 S. High School Road, Indianapolis, 46241
There are several piers along the pond at Krannert Park and it’s fully stocked by the DNR with catfish. Your kids will also love the trails, playground, indoor family center, indoor swimming pool, and outdoor swimming pool at this park.
Fort Harrison State Park, Delaware Lake
6000 N. Post Road, Indianapolis, 46216
Fort Harrison State Park is a 1700-acre park and has fishing access to Fall Creek, but the best fishing is on Delaware Lake. It is stocked with trout in the spring. The entrance fee to the park is $7 per car for Indiana residents. There are also trails, picnic sites, a saddle barn, and a 20th Century Warfare exhibit to visit while you’re there.
Washington Township Park Ponds
115 S. County Road 575, Avon, 46123
On this 160 acres of park property, you’ll find two half-acre ponds stocked with catfish and rainbow trout by the DNR. Kids can also visit the two playgrounds at Washington Township Park, the basketball or volleyball courts, or the splash pad.
Eagle Creek Park and Reservoir and Lilly Lake
7840 W. 56th Street, Indianapolis, 46254
There are many fishing spots in Eagle Creek Park, but Lilly Lake is a favorite with kids. This 5-acre lake is annually stocked with channel catfish by DNR. When fishing the shoreline, you can also catch bluegill, largemouth bass, and carp. There is a Marina at Eagle Creek during the summer months where you can buy limited bait and tackle. Admission to the park is $5-$6 per car. Other activities at Eagle Creek Park include hiking, swimming, boating, and ziplining.
Meadowlark Pond at Meadowlark Park
450 Meadow Lane, Carmel, 46032
Fish from the pier or the shoreline at this nearly 2-acre pond at Meadowlark Park. This pond is stocked each year by the DNR, so you can expect to find catfish, bluegill, and bass. The park has some recent upgrades including a new fishing pier, playground, shelter, pickleball courts, and trails.
Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park Lake
1850 W. 38th Street, Indianapolis, 46228
Located just west of Newfields on 38th Street, the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park features a 35-acre lake. Fish for carp, bluegill, bass, and catfish from spots along the shoreline. Parking and admission are free. The art park also features art to play on as well as wildflowers and nesting platforms for birds of prey to observe. Note: Due to erosion, the path around the lake may be closed. Call Newfields for the latest information.
Proctor Park Pond
499 Tracy Road, Whiteland, 46184
This 11-acre park features a “catch and release” pond. You will also find playgrounds, shelters, and trails. The monuments and memorials to veterans, those currently serving in Armed Services, and hometown heroes make this park unique.
Dubarry Park Pond
3698 Dubarry Road, Indianapolis, 46226
Kids will love fishing from the shoreline of this pond stocked with catfish by the DNR. Besides fishing, the 27-acre park also features a playground, restrooms, basketball and tennis courts, football field and softball fields, and a picnic shelter.
Central Park Pond
1235 Central Park Drive East, Carmel, 46032
There are plenty of fishing spots along the 5.2-acre Central Park Pond to catch bass, bluegill, catfish, and sunfish. This park also features 25,000 feet of playground space, a splash pad, picnic shelters, trails, and a skate park.
5 Tips for Fishing with Kids
from Clint Kowalik, Sport Fishing Educator at Indiana Department of Natural Resources
- Make it a short trip or break up the fishing with playground fun, a picnic, or a short hike or green space runaround.
- Use simple fishing equipment like cane poles or spin cast (closed-face) fishing combos.
- Hunt for worms in your compost or garden or in your yard after rain. Little pieces of hot dogs work as bait in a pinch.
- Bring and use bug spray, sunscreen, snacks, water, and hand sanitizer or wipes. Pack a first aid kit, just in case.
- Make the fishing more about the experience with family outdoors than catching fish. Pay attention to clouds and birds and dragonflies. It’s okay to talk and laugh. The fish won’t mind.
Find more videos and information on fishing in Indiana on DNR’s website.
Where to go Fishing Near Me