Worried that your kids don’t spend enough time outdoors? Or that all their activities seem to be attached to a video screen?
Bothered that they think the only place to get fish for dinner is the supermarket?
Here’s a thought: Take them fishing.
May is a great time to do it, especially for newcomers, thanks to a number of fishing events in Snohomish and Island counties. The events are free and no fishing license is required for youth 14 years old and younger.
The Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club has three youth events set for this month. The first is on Saturday at Jennings Park in Marysville, followed by kids fish-ins in Everett and in Smokey Point.
The Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club on Whidbey Island will hold a fishing derby for kids on May 12.
Dave Hall, athletic supervisor for Marysville, said the city’s event is a real collaboration aimed at helping kids have fun. The Kiwanis Club provides bikes for prizes and puts on a breakfast feast for a small fee, the fishing club provides fish, some loaner gear and expert help for kids who need it, and John’s Sporting Goods provides some rods and reels for prizes.
If the weather is good, Hall expects as many as 1,000 people at the event, now in its 24th year.
“We have a lot of parents bringing their children who came themselves as children,” Hall said, adding that about half the kids attending will be first-time anglers.
“A lot of kids flat out just don’t go outside,” he said.
Hall said the pond “will be so stocked with fish” that the odds of angling success will be high. He loves seeing kids catch a fish for the first time, noting the event is also “a cool bonding time” for parents and their children.
Scott Pool, recreation coordinator for Everett, said the city’s event is designed to perpetuate the sport. “We want to give kids and their families an introduction to an activity that is low or no cost,” he said.
The Silver Lake event has been held for at least 16 years. Kids fish in five scheduled shifts for stocked fish confined in a netted off area on the west end of the lake. There were 2,800 corralled fish last year.
Members of the steelhead group and other fishing clubs will help those who need it with baiting their hooks, casting their line and unhooking their fish. For a donation, volunteers also will clean the fish so that families can easily cook and eat their catch.
Les Bouck, a member of the Evergreen Fly Fishing Club based in Everett, has volunteered at the Silver Lake event for many years.
“I enjoy seeing kids catch their first trout,” he said. “Their faces light up and they are grinning from ear to ear.”
As a pastor, he also likes seeing families enjoying an activity together. “It’s the electronic age,” he said. “It’s nice to see parents taking an interest in their kids and spending time with them.”
He also likes seeing kids get outdoors. “A lot of them are indoor bound,” he said. “Until they try it, they don’t know what they’re missing.”
Bouck, who didn’t start fishing until he was in his mid-30s, also likes to see kids getting an early start in the sport.
That was important to the late Jim Brauch, a member of the Everett steelhead club who was instrumental in getting the group involved in kids fishing activities.
A retired Everett police lieutenant, Brauch was very involved in “getting kids off their computers,” said club member Carl Rientra. The fishing events are dedicated in Brauch’s memory.
Barry Martin, who used to coordinate the youth fishing events for the City of Everett, is now retired and supervises the program for the Everett steelhead club. He said Brauch always enjoyed introducing children to “the wonders of fishing.”
“He saw a lot of the negative side of young people and wanted to steer them to something positive,” Martin said.
He noted that the program is especially helpful for single parents who want to expose their children to fishing but don’t know how to go about it. “Mom may not know about fishing or dad may be on a (military) deployment,” he said. “It’s great that we can do this.”
In addition to learning about fishing, kids learn about nature in general, Martin said.
He remembered a recent fish-in where a bald eagle swooped down and grabbed a fish on a youngster’s line. An osprey did the same thing later in the day. In both cases, kids got to watch adults cover the birds with a cloth, remove the hooks, and set the birds free.
Rientra also noted that the lessons kids learn about nature are important and are different than what they learn from books or in a classroom. “They are the future of fishing,” he added.
He, too, said watching a child catch a fish for the first time is a sight to behold. “They just get so excited,” he said. “It’s like the biggest thing in their life.”