The big Memorial Day Weekend is here, and thousands of water-minded people will be in, on or around the area lakes, streams and pools across the state having fun.

The big Memorial Day Weekend is here, and thousands of water-minded people will be in, on or around the area lakes, streams and pools across the state having fun.

For the anglers, the timing isn’t bad.

“Usually the fishing has slowed down by the big weekend,” said Tom Roberts, Independence, “That isn’t the case, at least for me this year because it really hasn’t really started. However, last weekend at Stockton, I finally got a limit of crappie and several nice bass so I think this weekend it should be good. Even if it isn’t, I’ll be out there with all the others.”

With area lakes above normal, boaters should have good conditions for pursuing their sport.

Carl Thompson, Bolivar, who fishes at Pomme de Terre, said, “On this weekend, you will see all kinds of boats and people on the water. Last year, I saw canoes, rowboats, runabouts, bass boats pontoons, sailboats, kayaks and paddleboats while standing near the dam. I look for even more this year.”

Thompson went on to say, “This is the unofficial opening of the camping season as well. Already the campgrounds around the lakes have had visitors, but the big Memorial Weekend really brings campers out. Camping, like many other outdoor-related activities has grown over the past few years. Today it seems there are as more RVs than tents, I think.”

The first big holiday weekend of the season is cause for traditions for many families and friends.

Tony Jenkins and family, Springfield, started a tradition several years ago by floating a Missouri stream. It started out with six members of the family in three canoes, but this year Jenkins said, “We will have 10 canoes with 24 people.”

Other family traditions on the big weekend include the Joneses from Warrensburg. This family gets together to water ski.

John, who is now 68, is still the first family member to start out on a single ski followed by as many as 14 others as they parade under the bridges at Mutton Creek on Stockton lake.

“Its something we started a dozen years ago,” John said. “We all like to water ski. So we get the summer season started by getting together. The water is sometimes cold, but that doesn’t stop us. The skiers range in age from me to my 6-year-old grandson.”

Other families’ traditions include fish fries in the campground to family hikes. Jim Walker, Lamar, said, “Our family usually holds a scavenger hunt on one day of the Memorial Day Weekend, and all the family looks forward to the big hunt.”

Whether you are part of a family tradition this weekend or not, play it safe. Because it is the first big holiday weekend of the season, sometimes people let down their guard and become a statistic. Paul Carson, Kansas City, said it as well as anyone.

If everyone just used common sense, we wouldn’t have many accidents. To pratice safety, all you have to do is think.

Memorial Day Weekend finds many families like Jack Nelson, Butler, in a campground. The Nelsons have made the big holiday weekend their first camping trip of the year, and 2011 will be no different.

It’s interesting that as people’s leisure time decreases, their camping and outdoor time is increasing. Outdoors is a cherished part of our lives, and although many families have already been camping several times this year, the big holiday weekend jump starts the season for many campers.

You never know what the weather will be in late May. So be prepared. Nelson said, “It usually rains at some point over the weekend. So we have learned to live with it and use the weather to our advantage.”

During this time would be an excellent opportunity to take a youngster fishing. Generally speaking, unless a youngster is exposed to the sport of fishing by the age of 12 or 13, they will be lost to the sport.