The Herald of Everett, Washington
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Published: Thursday, May 26, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Nothing like catching your first fish

So it was that the Kruse clan came up against gray skies, occasional drizzle and a single, grossly over-used portable toilet Saturday morning at Twin Lakes County Park, fiercely determined to conquer north Gissberg Pond in what is seen as a very important and traditional rite of passage (or VITROP) in our family.
The subject of this particular VITROP was four-year old Tanner. The scene was the annual Kids' Fish-In hosted by the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club at the Smokey Point-area borrow-pond. The objective was for Tanner to capture his first rainbow trout by any means deemed legal and proper.
We were there in regiment strength: dad Murray, mom Lisa (staff photographer), uncle Morgan, gram Judyrae and granddad, and it took every soldier we could muster to pull off the once-in-a-lifetime memory maker -- from arguing about a possible change of fishing spot to discussing a more productive bait or leader length to re-focusing a child's flagging attention span to tapping the field kitchen for snacks.
We were armed with all the latest weapons -- chartreuse glitter Power Bait, pearl pink Power Eggs, green Power Worms, red Power Eggs and even traditional mini-marshmallows and worms. We had a couple of half-hearted bites on the 'mallow/worm combo, but it was the pink Power Eggs which finally kept us from dismal failure.
We saw a couple hundred happy kids on and around the lake, some dead serious about watching that rod tip and others much less so, but all obviously enjoying the morning, the water and all the frenetic activity.
We watched a seven- or eight-year old girl wind up to heave a cast out to the "good" water, misjudge slightly and sink her hook into the tail of the family dog, standing behind her. Nothing serious, the dog said, and they quickly rebaited.
Most kids caught a fish and were rewarded with a prize at the Everett club's headquarters table. One youngster caught a 91/4-pound triploid 'bow, to huge applause from those who had gathered to watch the epic struggle, then turned around only minutes later and landed a 91/2-pounder. We saw an 8-pounder taken near us, and two or three in the 5-pound range, along with a lot of smaller fish.
Our new angler finally skated a nice trout to the bank, and broke off one of the big ones a little later. The foot-long 'bow was the clan's only score for the morning, but since a single fish of any size was all we were looking for, that trout loomed larger for us than any Sitka halibut or Baja sailfish. Tanner's prize was a canvas creel stocked with line and sinkers, and he was proud as a peacock as he slung it over his shoulder to move on to his afternoon tee-ball game at the Arlington Boys and Girls Club. He, mom and dad shared the trout the next morning, with eggs and bacon.
These events -- north Gissberg, Jennings Pond, Tye Lake, Silver Lake and others -- are the future of our sport and deserve all the support our local rercreational fishing community can provide. The pen-raised trout in north Gissberg were purchased with proceeds from the annual Everett Coho Derby, something sport fishermen might keep in mind when the summer/fall salmon seasons come around.
Fish-in coordinator Jim Brauch said the north pond (open by law to juveniles only) will be stocked again Friday, and once more the Friday after, so if you missed Saturday's event, take your young person fishing over the next three or four weeks anyway.
I think the value of Saturday's event was expressed perfectly when I heard Tanner say to his father as we hiked back to the parking area, "Can we come fishing again tomorrow morning, Daddy?"
Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby
The old aphorism "If you snooze, you lose," proved to contain more than a grain of truth for those entered in Saturday's Lake Stevens Kokanee Derby.
"The bite was extremely early, and fishing got progressively slower as the day went on," said Snohomish Sportsmen's Club president and event coordinator Mark Spada. "Those folks who got on the water by 4:30 or 5 a.m. caught some fish, but by 7 or so it was, for all intents and purposes, over."
Spada, by the way, recently received a nice promotion and now sports the title of national sales manager for Yakima Bait, a major player in the Northwest fishing tackle biz. I caught up with him Tuesday evening in Missouri, where he was working a tackle show 40 miles away from tornado-ravaged Joplin, and with forecasts predicting more extreme weather in the general area.
Spada said most derby entrants had a fish or two, but that in general it was tough sledding. Kokanee are still shallow, he said, no deeper than about 20 feet, and most of the derby catch came on a rig consisting of a small dodger followed with a Wedding Ring or similar spinner. That said, the first-place winner -- an exceptional kokanee of 19 inches -- was reportedly caught on an Apex, a plastic, spoon-type lure something like a cut-plug.
All the proceeds from the extremely popular event -- it sold out at 240 adults and 65 young people -- again goes toward kokanee and trout enhancement in local lakes, Spada said.
RESULTS -- Biggest kokanee: First, $1,000, Rachel Dye, 1.61 pounds; second, $500, Randy Costallo, 1.33 pounds; third, $250, Derick Whitaker, 1.2 pounds; and fourth, $100, Jeff Galliger, 1.2 pounds.
Biggest kokanee limit (10 fish): First, $500, Carl Huswick, 9.93 pounds; and second, $250, Butch Spafford, 9.52 pounds.
Biggest trout; Butch Spafford, 1.18 pounds, $250.
Kids division (any species): First, $100, Mackenzie Ramsey, 4.04-pound smallmouth bass; second, $75, Neil Blain, 3.5-pound smallmouth; and third, $50, Nate Metcalf, 1.04-pound kokanee.
For more outdoor news, read Wayne Kruse's blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.

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