A dad helps his son try to hook up with a trout at the Everett fish-in. (Mike Benbow)

A dad helps his son try to hook up with a trout at the Everett fish-in. (Mike Benbow)

Teach a kid to fish: 6 local derbies scheduled for trout season

Here’s how to get youngsters hooked on the sport — even if Mom and Dad don’t fish themselves.

Taking a kid fishing is great family fun.

It’s also a rite of passage: Many of us have fond memories of learning how to fish with Mom and Dad. We look forward to the day it’s our turn to teach, thus passing the reel and rod to the next generation.

Whether you’re an avid angler or your family has little to no experience fishing, you’ll want to mark the fourth Saturday in April on your calendars.

April 27 is one of the bigger events in Washington state’s outdoors calendar: the opening day of trout season.

While some lakes open early and others are open year-round, the 27th is the start of fishing season for the vast majority of lakes in the state. To get ready, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife stocks the lakes with millions of trout.

If you’d like to get a child involved in fishing, but don’t really know much about it, don’t worry. The state sponsors a number of free fishing events for kids up to 14 from April through June, including several in Snohomish and Island counties.

No license is required in Washington for anglers younger than 15.

The Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club hosts some of the county’s more popular kids fishing events. The club’s fish-ins and classes, scheduled each spring in Everett and Marysville, attracted more than 1,200 children in 2018, according to Barry Martin.

Martin, who coordinated the fishing events for the city of Everett for years, now supervises them for the Everett steelhead club.

He said that not only are the events great family fun, they help foster in children a love of the outdoors.

“It’s something really positive you can do as a family unit,” Martin said.

A girl displays her catch at the Everett Fish-in. (Mike Benbow)

A girl displays her catch at the Everett Fish-in. (Mike Benbow)

The kids fish-ins are held in memory of the late Jim Brauch, a retired Everett police lieutenant who was instrumental in getting club members to help teach children to fish at these events.

Gary Medema, a member of the Evergreen Fly Fishing Club in Everett, has volunteered at the kids fish-ins for many years. He said Brauch’s excitement over helping kids learn to fish was contagious — it’s one of the reasons why Medema keeps coming back.

“He really had a passion for seeing kids get involved in the outdoors,” Medema said.

Volunteers help kids prepare the equipment, cast their rods, unhook the fish and just about anything else they would need.

“It’s actually fun,” Medema said. “It’s great seeing kids go out and catch their first fish.”

Medema, of Marysville, said kids of all ages and abilities can and should learn to fish. It’s fun and easy to do.

A few years ago, he helped a kid with a disability cast their rod. He was happy to see the child come back to the event several times since.

The fish-ins are also helpful for parents who don’t know anything about fishing but want to get their children involved in outdoor activities, Medema said.

“A lot of single moms are so happy to get somebody to help,” agreed Ron Pera, of Camano Island, a fish-in volunteer who is also a member of the fly fishing club. “Grandparents, too.”

He loves helping children who haven’t fished before.

“They reel the fish in like crazy,” Pera said, “and they sure are happy when they get it in.”

Volunteer Ron Pera removes the hook from a nice trout. (Mike Benbow)

Volunteer Ron Pera removes the hook from a nice trout. (Mike Benbow)

Free fishing events for kids

Here are six kids fishing events in Snohomish and Island counties this spring. For a calendar of events around the state, go to www.wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/kids/events.html.


April 24

The Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club hosts a fishing class prior to the trout opener. The class will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at Silver Lake’s Thornton A. Sullivan Park, 11405 W. Silver Lake Road. Kids will learn how to fish, hear about the rules and get suggestions about where to go. They will also receive some free tackle and equipment. Call the Everett Parks Department at 425-257-8300 ext. 2 to register.

May 11

The Everett steelhead club’s kids fish-in is from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., also at Sullivan Park. The state will stock an enclosed area at the Silver Lake beach. Kids without equipment can borrow a rod and reel. Bait will be provided. Volunteers will help children where needed, including cleaning the fish so kids can eat their catch. Call Everett Parks to register for a time slot.


May 4

Marysville’s fishing derby, co-hosted by the Everett steelhead club, will be 8 to 11 a.m. at the pond at Jennings Memorial Park, 6915 Armar Road. Kids can use their own equipment, but there will also be loaner tackle. Bring a donation for the food bank. Leave pets at home. For kids 2 to 12 years old. The Marysville Kiwanis Club hosts a pancake breakfast at the same time. Cost is $3 for kids, $5 for adults. Call 360-363-8400 or email dhall@marysvillewa.gov for more.

May 18

The Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club will also hold a fish-in for kids at Twin Lakes (Gissberg Ponds) at 16324 Twin Lakes Ave. The event is in the north pond from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The fish-in will include plenty of stocked fish, volunteers to provide help and fishing equipment available for loan.


April 28

The Sky Valley chapter of Trout Unlimited will host the Monroe Kids Fishing Derby from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lake Tye. Meet at Lake Tye Park, 14964 Fryelands Blvd. For kids 13 and younger. The lake will be stocked with fish. Fishing equipment is provided. Volunteers help children with their catch. Prizes awarded. Search for Trout Unlimited-Sky Valley 654 on Facebook for more information.

Whidbey Island


The Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club’s Kids Fishing Derby is typically held the Saturday before Mother’s Day at Lake Albert. Bring your fishing gear and bait to the lake in Maple Glen at 5291 Hawthorne Lane, Langley. For kids 2 to 14. Call 360-221-8494 for more information.

Washington North Coast Magazine

This article is featured in the spring issue of Washington North Coast Magazine, a supplement of The Daily Herald. Explore Snohomish and Island counties with each quarterly magazine. Each issue is $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four editions for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or go to www.washingtonnorthcoast.com for more information.

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