By Mike Benbow Special to The Herald
Saturday is the opening day of trout season, the state’s biggest fishing event of the year.
Officials have been gearing up for the event since March by releasing some 16.5 million hatchery trout and kokanee in hundreds of lakes, including many in Snohomish County.
If you’re 14 years old or younger, you don’t need to buy a license to fish in Washington state. And in Snohomish County, there are several programs where people will teach youngsters how to fish and even lend them some fishing gear to do it.
Among the most popular programs for kids is the Silver Lake Fish-in coming up on May 10. The program, in its 12th year, typically attracts some 600 youngsters from ages 4 to 14.
“The goal is to get kids out fishing,” Barry Martin, the city of Everett’s recreation coordinator, said of the free event.
Martin said kids are spending less time in the outdoors these days, so this is a good way for them to see how much fun fishing can be.
“We really want to introduce young people to the sport of fishing,” he said. “It’s a lifelong hobby, and it’s great.”
The city typically corrals some 3,000 hatchery fish on one end of the lake using a long net. Putting that many fish in a small area helps ensure the young anglers’ success.
In addition to big numbers of fish, the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club puts in a few trout from three to five pounds so kids have a shot at something big.
And its members and other volunteers will help the kids prepare their gear and show them how to use it.
Gear is provided for people who don’t have their own, Martin said.
“You don’t have to worry if you don’t have a pole,” he said.
Kids in groups of about 75 fish for the trout from the beach in different shifts that begin at 7:30 a.m. Volunteers help bait the hooks and cast the rods if needed. The kids reel the fish in.
“It’s exciting when they tie into one of those big ones,” Martin said.
He said volunteers are available to clean the fish caught by the young anglers so that they can go home with dinner as well as fond memories.
“If we clean the fish, they’re less likely to go to waste,” he said. “We’d like them to end up in the frying pan.”
Martin said the fish-in is popular with single mothers who don’t fish but would like their children to have the opportunity to learn.
“Fishing is a great family time,” Martin said, adding it’s a good time with friends as well.
“I wouldn’t trade my time with my fishing buddies for anything.”
May 3: 8 to 11 am., Jennings Park, 6915 Armar Road, Marysville. For ages 5 to 12. Event is free, but people can bring donations for the food bank. See www.everettsteelheadandsalmonclub.com.
May 10: 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Thornton A. Sullivan Park, 11405 W. Silver Lake Rd., Everett, on Silver Lake. For ages 4 to 14. Hosted by Everett Parks Department. Registration required at http://tinyurl.com/ljslf2z.
May 17: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Twin Lakes County Park, 16324 Twin Lakes Road, Marysville, near Smokey Point. For ages 5 to 14.
To find out which lakes in Washington state have been stocked by the state, check http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/statewide/.
If you are age 15 or older, you need a fishing license. They can be purchased at numerous vendors or online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.