Lifestyle

Hooked on Fishing stocks Steel Lake with rainbow trout | All-ages event June 5

A summer tradition for kids is coming back to Steel Lake Park on June 5.

The 23rd annual Hooked on Fishing derby runs 7 a.m. to noon at the Steel Lake Park fishing dock, 2410 S. 312th St. Children ages 2 to 12 are invited to come catch a fish, or two, from the stocked lake for $3.50 per participant. Each year, between 350 and 400 kids show up to participate in the fishing event, said Leah Fraine, cultural events and arts coordinator. The event is sponsored by the Save our Fish chapter of Puget Sound Anglers.

"For a lot of the kids, it's their only opportunity to go fishing," derby coordinator and Anglers member Mark Herwick said.

Up to 20 kids are positioned on the dock at a time and given 20 minutes to fish. They are allowed to catch two rainbow trout. A fishing license is not needed.

Puget Sound Anglers Save Our Fish chapter will have guides available to help teach kids more about trout and fishing. Equipment is provided by the chapter. Guides will bait and cast poles for participants. They will also be available to answer questions about fishing and fish conservation efforts.

Participants reel in their own catches. The young kids sometimes struggle to stay attentive, but everything changes when they reel in their catch, Herwick said.

"The fun thing is watching the littlest ones," he said. "When they catch their first fish, they forget everything."

Kids will have ample opportunities to land a fish. The lake is pre-stocked with roughly 2,000 rainbow trout prior to the event. They are kept near the dock by a net that surrounds the structure. The majority of the fish range in size from 6 to 12 inches, and about 500 of them measure 2 feet or longer, Fraine said. The fish are supplied primarily by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The Save the Fish chapter also pitches in to supply the trout.

Free fishing

Whatever trout are not caught during the Hooked on Fishing event remain in the lake at large. The event plays into the state's annual efforts to stock lakes. Fishing is allowed at Steel Lake and the weekend following Hooked on Fishing (June 12-13) is a free fishing weekend at sites maintained by Fish and Wildlife. Licenses are not needed this weekend only.

The dock, beach and swimming area at Steel Lake Park will be closed beginning 6 a.m. June 4 to accommodate Hooked on Fishing. It will remain closed to the public until 3 p.m. June 5. Preregistration is required to participate in Hooked on Fishing. Call (253) 835-6900 or visit www.itallhappenshere.org to learn more and register for the event.

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