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Fishing events introduce kids to the lure of the pastime
Seattle Times staff reporter
Hooking a fish is the best way to get kids hooked on fishing.
"There's nothing like getting a fish on the end of their line to get kids excited about it," said Jim Owens, executive director of the CAST (Catch a Special Thrill) for Kids Foundation.
A dozen kid fishing derbies — all low-cost or free — and local kids-only fishing ponds make it easy to land a first fish.
The ponds or lakes are stocked with fishery-bred trout, so while there's no guarantee, "odds are everyone is going to catch a fish," Owens said. Experienced anglers give instruction and clean fish for kids to take home.
The Renton-based CAST for Kids organizes fishing events for special-needs children nationally and contracts with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to stage urban fishing events open to all kids age 5 to 14 around Washington. The group expects more than 9,000 children statewide to take part this year.
Kid fishing holes
Mill Pond: 600 Oravetz Road, Auburn, 253-931-3043.
Old Fishing Hole Pond Frager Road, south of West Meeker Street, Kent. 253-856-5000.
North Gissburg Pond Located along I-5 just south of the Smokey Point exit, north of Marysville. Open year-round. Terry Rudnick says this is "the best of bunch," and it's kept well stocked.
Jennings Park Pond: 6915 Armar Road, Marysville, 360-363-8400. Open year-round.
Wapato Lake 6500 S. Sheridan, Tacoma, 253-305-1000. Open year-round. Easy access from Interstate 5.
Fee-based trout farms
Gold Creek Trout Farm: 15844 148th Ave. N.E., Woodinville, 425-483-1415. Open Fridays-Sundays; Wednesdays-Sundays starting in May.
Springbrook Trout Farm: 19225 Talbot Road S., Renton, 253-852-0360. Open daily.
Source: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Other local derbies are run by fishing, sportsmen or fraternal clubs, some attracting upward of 500 kids.
At the urban Fishing Kids events, informal surveys show about two-thirds haven't fished before, Owen said. "People used to tell me, 'Kids don't want to go fishing. They've got their GameBoys and computers. They're too busy with everything else.'"I never believed that," he said. "It's just kids don't have the opportunity to do it." The Department of Fish and Wildlife agrees. "You give kids one crack at it, and even the ones who are squeamish at first take to it," said Terry Rudnick, the department's youth fishing coordinator. "It's a glorified Easter egg hunt. Every time you drop your line in the water, something exciting could happen."
It's in the department's interest to encourage the next generation of environmental stewards, Rudnick said. "The agency realizes that kids are our future. If we're not teaching them to fish now, they're going to learn other things that are not as fun or productive."
Children age 14 and under can fish without a license for any legal species during open season. Many lakes, including Green Lake, are open year-round.
"It's difficult to live more than a mile or two from a body of water in Seattle, so it's sad most kids and parents don't take advantage of it," Owens said.
Seattle physician Dr. Jeffrey Lee calls catching a fish "a little bit of wildness you can touch."
"To give that to a kid who's growing up in the city is really a gift," said the author of "Catch a Fish, Throw a Ball, Fly a Kite: 21 Timeless Skills Every Child Should Know" (Three Rivers Press, 2004).
An all-ages activityAngling enthusiasts say it's an ideal multigenerational activity that even great-grandparents can join. "You don't have to be big or strong or fast," Owens said. "Anyone can do it."
The outlay for a beginner can be as little as $25 for a simple rod and tackle. "If you suspend a nice, juicy garden worm on a hook with a bobber, you can catch just about anything that swims out there," Rudnick said.
Fishing is a rare parent-child outing that encourages quiet time for sitting and talking or just being together, Lee said.
"It's a different mindset, a different way of being outside," he said. "There's a lot of concentration, watching the line and imagining what's going on underwater."
When many families spend their week heading in various directions, fishing is "a chance to get away from the normal hectic speed of daily life," said Owens.
While fishing's appeal will vary by a child's temperament, parents should give it a try before assuming kids will find it dull, Lee said
"Eagles fly, frogs jump — there's a lot of stimulation there that we don't categorize as such because we're used to stimulation being MTV," he noted. "When some kids get outside, they settle into a totally different groove."
Stephanie Dunnewind: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-2091.
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company