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Originally published Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 8:00 PM

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Fishing programs scheduled for kids

Spring is a wonderful time to get kids hooked on fishing, and lure them away from all the day-to-day grind. To help create a fun environment...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Reel Time Northwest

Seattle native and lifelong angler Mark Yuasa blogs on fishing in the Pacific Northwest.

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Spring is a wonderful time to get kids hooked on fishing, and lure them away from all the day-to-day grind.

To help create a fun environment, the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation and state Fish and Wildlife offer kids a chance to learn about fishing through events held during spring and summer.

"The excitement level is just tremendous at the events," said Jim Owens, founder and executive director of the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation.

"Many say computers and other technology are the big distraction, but that is simply not true," Owens said. "They just don't have the opportunity as their parents are the ones who need to provide them a chance to go fishing."

The events are set at lakes or ponds, which are stocked with hatchery rainbow trout, and while it is still called fishing, the odds of catching them are much better.

Each event is different with some being free and others requesting a fee of $5 to $10. Some give out rods-and-reels to take home or they offer loaners, and others require kids to bring their own fishing gear.

Volunteers at events teach the kids how to catch fish, water safety, fish identification, and environmental and natural resource education.

"We have done surveys and almost 50 percent of the kids have gone fishing after the events," Owens said. "In fact some parents who hadn't bought a fishing license did so. The key is getting a fish on the end of the line, and that is what excites the kids."

"It used to be a rite of passage for parents to take their kids fishing, and now it has changed and we are part of that rite of passage, and it's just exciting to be a part of that," Owens said.

There are a lot of avenues for those who want to give fishing a try on their own, and state Fish and Wildlife regularly plants lakes and ponds with trout.

Places like Green Lake in North Seattle (recently planted with 17,844 trout) have ample shoreline and dock areas; Angle Lake south of Sea-Tac (3,294); Ballinger Lake in Snohomish County (6,400); Cranberry Lake (6,530) on Whidbey Island; and Lake Meridian in Kent (10,442). For the latest trout plantings, go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

Failor Lake in Grays Harbor will be open for a kids-only fishing derby, hosted by the Grays Harbor Poggie Fishing Club, 8 a.m. to noon on April 20.

One key to success is the parents putting themselves in their kids shoes, and while the focus is on fishing it is also important to just let them have fun.

If the fish aren't "biting" then make sure you have other enjoyable options so they'll come back again.

That could be as simple as fishing at a lake by playground or field to run around; a picnic site to eat; or bring along some toys, books, table games or cards to pass the time.

Here are some ways to make it a successful trip:

Be sure all your fishing gear is in working order before you go. Let them choose what bait to use like colorful dough baits, marshmallow, worm, salmon eggs. You'd be surprised at what a fish will bite like a candied gummy worm or even a canned corn kernel nugget.

When you plan the trip make sure the kids are involved. Have them look at a map of the lake and how you'll get there. The main key is patience. Even though mornings are best for biting fish, the kids often prefer to sleep in a bit, and there are fish that will bite all-day long.

Trout aren't the only species swimming around as many lakes are better for perch, bass, catfish, sunfish and other warm water fish species.

Wear the right clothes: It is better for them to have more layers than to be miserable and cold. They can always take clothes off as the day warms up.

Kids should always wear a life jacket when around water. By law, children 12 and younger must wear a U.S. Coast Guard — approved life jacket when in a boat smaller than 19 feet in length.

C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation events (www.castforkids.org): June 1, Gene Coulon Park in Renton on Lake Washington (425-251-3202); and June 15, Island Lake in Silverdale (360-337-5350).

State Fish and Wildlife events (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/kids/events.html): April 12-13, Klineline Pond in Vancouver; April 27, Fortson Pond in Snohomish, Sarge Hubbard Pond in Yakima, and Mill Pond in Auburn; April 28, Lake Tye in Monroe; May 4, Clear Lake in Spokane, Jennings Park Pond in Marysville, Mill Pond in Auburn, Northern State Hospital Pond in Sedro-Woolley, and Snoqualmie Police Station in North Bend; May 10, Columbia Park Pond in Kennewick (special needs kids only); May 11, Boucher's Pond in Sultan, Columbia Park Pond in Kennewick, Lake Albert in Langley, and Silver Lake in Everett; May 18, Gissburg Ponds in Snohomish; June 1, Lake Washington in Kenmore, Bowman Pond in Monroe, Johnson Creek in Lynden, and Seacrest Pier in West Seattle.

Mission Ridge pays homage longtime ski instructor

Mission Ridge ski instructor Otto Ross, age 87, one of the first to ski Mission Ridge when it opened in 1966 will be honored 10 a.m., Sunday at the Hampton Lodge.

"Mission Ridge will honor Otto for his contributions to the resort and ski industry by dedicating an area of the mountain "Otto's Outback" on the last day of the season," said John Gifford, the Pacific Northwest Ski Area Association president.

Otto has just finished his 62nd year as a ski instructor.

"Otto truly loves what he does, and has a great passion for teaching," said Jordan Lindstrom, the Mission Ridge marketing manager. "In fact he was out instructing a group in the rain showers (this past Thursday), which shows his dedication."

At age 23, Otto became National Ski Patroller number 1,375 at Stevens Pass. Two years later he obtained the Pacific Northwest Ski Instructors Association certification number 25, which now totals above 200,000.

In 1959, Otto qualified as one of the 45 U.S. Professional Ski Patrollers to serve during the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley.

Otto has also taught skiing at Big Mountain Resort in Whitefish, Montana and Stevens Pass Resort.

Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or myuasa@seattletimes.com

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