Kids, Fishing and Derbies

Well, here it is at last; Washington’s Free Fishing Weekend. Buckle up.

Tomorrow and Sunday, no one in your family will need a license to fish in any open water in the state. Here’s the small print (read it like that hurried description of side effects at the end of drug commercials): you need no state license, but size limits, bag limits and closures are still in effect. And you will also be required to complete a catch record card (available free at license dealers, and online at wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/fishregs.htm) for any salmon, steelhead, sturgeon or halibut you catch. This is also Kid Fishing Derby weekend.

Sadly, I now only have adults (Edward, last of the Hucklings, turned 21 years ago), and my Grand-Hucklings live too far away. Still, you can take your youngsters to one of a couple great fishing opportunities in Paradise.

Both of these kids’ derbies happen here in Kittitas County tomorrow (Saturday, 6/10), both are for ages 14 and under, and both have been happening for nigh on 30 years

The party at Fio Rito is the Annual Kiwanis Kids Free Fishing Derby. Registration and fishing starts at 10 a.m. and runs to Noon, for age groups of five and under, 6 through 10, and 11 through 14. Once upon a time, Kiwanis reared fish and turned them loose in local creeks for the event, but times – and rules – change, so Fio Rito it is. There are still cool prizes for the kids who come fish, though, with a bike, a fishing combo, a tackle box or travel gear for the top fishers in each age group. Every kid will walk away with some sort of fishing stuff – and probably some nice fish. Dale DeFoor has more info at 509-929-0449.

These fishing experiences touch people in many ways. Dale still tells of the child struggling with cancer who was excited to win an age group bike years ago. After he passed, his parents supplied bikes for other derby winners over several years. For young and old alike, fishing triggers a deep connection with Earth and Spirit.

The Upper County party is the Annual Easton Kids Fishing Derby on Lavender Lake (Exit 74 off I-90). This adventure has been co-sponsored since its inception by the USFS Cle Elum Ranger District and Cascade Field and Stream Club.  Registration starts at 6 a.m. at Lavender Lake, with lines in the water at 7. Prizes include fishing, camping and floating gear, and are given in each of several age groups. Other activities (fish anatomy, habitat, ethics, etc.) at several stations, will get kids into a free raffle for even more prizes. Mark Bennett will have info at 509-670-1464, but all you really must do is show up with your under-14ers.

This Easton Party always features appearances by Smokey Bear. Mark will tell you that some kids are a little unsure about it all, but most can’t wait to get a picture with Smokey – and still talk about it decades later. What a great way to kick off summer with kids!

These derbies can be great fun, but funny things happen when gangs of people get together to fish. And, as The Old Man used to say, “It ain=t all funny ha-ha.”

Near the end of the last century, I took eight-year-old Edward and thirteen-year-old Anna to a fishing derby at Hansen Pond (now Kiwanis Pond) near Cle Elum.

The instructions clearly said “Do not start fishing until 7:00 a.m.” We were there at 6:50. There were two dozen lines in the water, and the first fish had already been registered.

Adults could cast lines and bait hooks, but fish were to be hooked, played and landed by the kids.  As we walked to a likely fishing spot, I talked to a dad and a granddad holding and baiting two separate rods for the five- or six-year-old kid standing by. They explained that they wanted to make sure he would always have a rod ready to go and wouldn’t have any “down” time.

We watched half a dozen dads casting, hooking and bringing in fish. A couple of them actually stepped on their kids as they cast over, and across, the lines of anybody in the way. Frustrated, Edward noted there was plenty of room, and asked why the man with two little kids just down the shoreline kept casting both their lines over his, which was straight out. I allowed as how it was probably because he was catching fish. Then I suggested “maybe he thinks your hole is the only one in the lake with any trout in it.”

Eventually, the guy handed the rods off to his kids. In time, he actually let his boy and girl hook and land two nice truck trout.

By 9, the adults had pretty much surrendered, and kids were fishing, focused and happy. It seemed to me that a few fishers were being born. The Hucklings decided it was great time.

A friend once observed, “Teach a kid to fish and she’ll hassle you for more ‘til she’s grown and gone!”

Even the random nature of +/- sportsmanlike gang fishing is a good start to a fishing life. Take a kid fishing.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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