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Hooked on fishing reels in little ones

Hooked on Fishing info

From 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 9, children ages 2 to 12 will gather for the city’s 20th annual Hooked on Fishing event at Steel Lake Park, 2410 S. 312th St.

Cost to participate in the event is $3.50 per child. Participants must pre-register for this event.

However, a fishing license is not needed since state law only requires those over age 14 to have a license.

Each child is allowed to sign up for one of 15 time slots, each spanning 20 minutes and accommodating about 22 children, said Tarra Reardon, community events coordinator. The event regularly sells out, which makes for a total of about 330 participants, Reardon said.

For more information about Hooked on Fishing or to register, visit the community center at 876 S. 333rd St., or call the center at (253) 835-6900. To learn more, visit www.cityoffederalway.com/recreation.

By JACINDA HOWARD

The Mirror

On June 9, the dock at Steel Lake Park will be bustling with children, fishing poles and bait in hand, all trying to catch “the big one.”

Children ages 2 to 12 will gather for the city’s 20th annual Hooked on Fishing event at the park, 2410 S. 312th St.

Hooked on Fishing is a way for the children to have fun while learning to fish. It is also a way to teach children a bit about trout habitat.

To host the event, the city operates in conjunction with the South King County Chapter of Trout Unlimited — an organization focused on conserving, protecting and restoring natural-water fish — as well as Joe’s sports store and Liberty Mutual.

Hooked on Fishing used to be offered in the form of a derby, but about a decade ago, the host organizations decided to encourage children to have fun rather than focus on winning prizes, said Dana Smith, South King County Chapter of Trout Unlimited president.

“The objective is to help get the kids out of the house and give them an opportunity to catch a couple of fish,” he said.

Prior to the event, a net will be placed around the dock. It will serve as a holding tank for the trout, which will range in size from 6 inches to nearly 3 feet, Reardon said. The morning of June 8, the South King County Chapter of Trout Unlimited will stock Steel Lake with 2,400 to 2,500 trout. Fish not caught are released into the lake after the event.

Many of the fish will be provided by the state and come from the Soos Creek State Salmon Hatchery in Auburn, Smith said. The chapter will spend $1,000 to purchase large trout from a commercial firm called Troutlodge Inc., Smith said. These will also be placed in the lake. Each child is allowed to catch no more than two fish.

“Nothing is more exciting than looking at the bottom of the net and seeing seven- or eight-pound fish swimming around,” Smith said.

South King County Chapter of Trout Unlimited and city representatives will be available to assist children at the event. The chapter will provide 20 to 25 guides to assist children while they are on the dock, Smith said. The guides will be available to cast fishing poles, bait hooks and untangle fishing lines, among other things. Stations for weighing and measuring the fish will be located on the beach and operated by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services personnel.

Annually, South King County Chapter of Trout Unlimited supplies fishing poles, reels, tackle, bait, fishing line and any other necessary materials to the children. Anyone showing up with their own equipment will not be allowed to use it, Smith said.

Even though the lake will be stocked to provide ample opportunity for each child to catch two fish in 20 minutes, it is still important that each child use similar equipment when fishing, Smith said. The point of the experience is to have fun, not to have an unfair advantage in catching fish, he said.

“Everybody is using the exact same equipment, so everyone will have the same opportunity,” he said.

The event provides a good backdrop for teaching children about a fish’s natural habitat and biology. In past years, a 15-minute presentation about trout habitats has been given to children waiting for their turn on the dock, Smith said. One guide has even taken a liking to giving children a brief biology lesson on the vital system of a fish as he cleans it, Smith said.

Hooked on Fishing has become an annual event for several Federal Way folks. Many of the children who partook in the event during its early years now have children of their own whom they bring to join in the activities, Smith said. Part of the excitement and fun for the children, their guardians and the guides is seeing who catches what.

“You see kids of all ages, and sometimes the smallest of kids catch the biggest fish,” Reardon said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror or (253) 925-5565.

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