If there ever were an event that is solely about supporting a new generation of anglers, the Clear Lake Annual Kids Fishing Event is it. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife teams up every year with local organizations to host this remarkable event that encourages kids to enjoy the outdoors. This event epitomizes everything that is positive about outdoor recreation and the groups in our area that support it. It is well worth checking out.

This year’s event will take place on May 7 at the Fairchild Air Force Base Clear Lake Recreation Area. The $10 registration gets you a Zebco rod and reel, all the bait you need, and a cool T-shirt. Each participant can catch up to three rainbow trout, and no license is needed to fish as part of the event.

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The best part is that volunteers are there to help, so no fishing experience is required on the part of the child or the adult who comes with them. WDFW Fisheries Biologist Randall Osbourne said that the volunteer staff onsite, all of whom are anglers and many of whom are also biologists, often will pay extra attention to participants who are having trouble and help them along. If a rod breaks, the event staff will replace it so the person can keep on fishing.

There is a cleaning station where the fish will be cleaned for free. You can take them home to enjoy your catch, or you can leave the fish in a cooler next to the cleaning station and donate them to the local food bank.

Osbourne said that the purpose of the event is to get kids outside and to provide them with the tools to do so. There are seven net pens off the docks and the larger beach area. Personal floatation devices are provided, and all children are required to wear a PDF when out on the dock. Osbourne emphasized that the event is all about the kids having fun and being safe.

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

There are approximately 6,000 rainbow trout of various sizes for the kids to catch. The organizers expect about 800 people to attend the event, though they are capable of accepting registration for 1,000 participants. Most participants are new but some come back year after year.

The event is made possible by numerous local organizations and individuals, with all funding coming from donations and volunteer efforts. In the past, the Kalispel Tribe has provided a generous amount of support, as have the volunteers who return year after year. Fairchild AFB has been generous about allowing event organizers to use the location each year.

Paid registration is due by April 20. A registration form can be obtained from the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website (Wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/kids/events.html), or you can pick one up at the WDFW Regional office at 2315 N. Discovery Place in Spokane Valley. //

[Feature photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.]