Fishing was a big part of family vacations when I was growing up, two weeks each summer that were as much about spending quality time together as they were about catching fish. It’s been years since I cast a line in the water, what with my family scattered across the country, and sometimes I miss those carefree days.
So when the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) invited me on a media trip to learn about its Take Me Fishing campaign and partnership with Walt Disney World Resort, I couldn’t resist.
Visiting The Fishin’ Hole at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
The TakeMeFishing.org (TMF) fishing and boating experiences at Walt Disney World (WDW) began with a fun, low-key re-introduction to the sport: cane pole fishing at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside (POR), one of WDW’s moderate resorts.
The Fishin’ Hole is located on the resort’s Ol’ Man Island. It offers fishing and picturesque view the Sassagoula River, which is stocked with large-mouth bass, bluegill, catfish and sunfish. The dock provides some sun, some shade, and even some small steps so younger guests may have easier access to putting their poles in the water.
The group checked in at The Fishin’ Hole, where we received poles and bait. Catching a fish isn’t guaranteed during your half-hour fishing experience, though WDW’s stocking of its waters betters the odds. Poles may be rented individually or in family packs, and the fees cover the cane poles, bait and dock time.
Eddie, a friendly and knowledgeable Cast Member, gave us some basic fishing instructions and fishing tips. He also showed us how to properly bait our hooks using the TMF-branded earthworms, humorously called “The #1 Choice of Finicky Fish.” He even offered to bait the hooks of us novice anglers. (For those who are a bit squeamish about earthworms or prefer a throwback to their childhood camping days: Hot dogs are also available as bait.)
As with all fishing done at Walt Disney World, the dock fishing at POR is “catch and release.” You can’t keep any fish you may catch, a policy TMF notes is both beginner- and conservation-friendly, but no worries. Guests are welcomed to capture their moments on camera, something I witnessed most guests doing with or without any fish being caught.
Take Me Fishing keeps dockside fishing simple, fun and relaxing
For the Disney fan, there’s something very satisfying about cane pole fishing off POR’s rustic dock. The whole experience seems very Tom Sawyer or maybe Huckleberry Finn – whichever Mark Twain childhood hero you most identify with. It’s also very much in the spirit of Walt Disney himself; Walt’s interest in fishing led him to include dock fishing on Tom Sawyer Island during the early days of Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.
Beyond its nostalgic and thematic value, using real cane poles is a smart decision for POR. It easily introduces fishing to both Disney guests and novice anglers. Cane poles keep the whole affair very simple. The equipment is just a pole, a line, a hook and some bait. There’s no casting or reels to worry about. Guests can just drop the line in the water and wait.
Although I didn’t catch any fish on this segment of the trip – I would later that day – I found cane pole fishing quite relaxing. It reminded me of what Frank Peterson, president and CEO of the non-profit RBFF, said about the benefits of recreational boating and fishing. In his introductory remarks about the Take Me Fishing campaign, Peterson noted that simply being near water reduces stress.
I certainly felt stress-free after my half-hour experience, which offered the rare and welcomed opportunity to catch some sun…and my breath. A Disney trip for me, or any vacation really, usually involves lots of go-go-go. There’s very little time to unwind and just “be.” Dockside fishing provided me the space and opportunity to do just that. It was to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the whole trip.
I didn’t appear to be alone in finding the experience relaxing and stress-free, either. Most of the Disney guests I saw fishing used the time to take photos and talk, the focus more on each other then their bobbers. Their behavior hinted the most important part of the fish stories they would later tell might have less to do with the fish than the people those moments were shared with.
Cane pole fishing at POR helped me remember this childhood lesson: fishing isn’t necessarily about catching fish. (Even though the possibility of catching one is certainly part of the attraction). It’s about being there in the moment, soaking in the entire experience and enjoying who you’re with.
Trying Take Me Fishing at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside
No reservations are required for Take Me Fishing’s dockside fishing at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, or for casting-rods counterpart at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.
The Fishin’ Hole at Ol’ Man Island is open from 7:00 a.m. until 1:45 p.m (last poles rented out by 1:15 p.m.). Hours may vary seasonally, and The Fishin’ Hole was open until 2:45 p.m. (last poles out by 2:15 p.m.) for my experience. Cane pole fishing at POR costs approximately $7 per half hour a single pole or $16 per half hour for a family pack of 4-6 poles.
More information on Take Me Fishing experiences at Walt Disney World Resort – dockside fishing, Sea Raycer rentals, and guided bass fishing excursions – is available by calling 407-WDW- BASS (939-2277). Reservations are required for the guided excursions.
DISCLOSURE: As part of the Take Me Fishing media trip, Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation provided transportation, accommodations, meals and excursions. I was not required to write this article and all opinions are my own.