Forget about egg hunts — these kids wanted to go fishing.
Hundreds of young anglers hunted for rainbow trout Saturday during the Lacey Family Fish-in. The annual event usually draws about 600 people to Long’s Pond in Woodland Creek Community Park.
For many children, the event was an introduction to fishing. After handing out rods and worms, dozens of volunteers helped youngsters cast their fishing lines into the pond where raindrops dimpled the water.
“He is obsessed with fishing. He wants to fish all the time,” said Olympia resident Denelle Baker as her son Braden, 9, worked a fishing pole at the pond’s edge. “We thought this would be a great way to open up fishing season.”
Braden joined some of his fellow Cub Scouts from Pack 789. Bear den leader Jim Huyck said the Scouts were trying to earn belt loops for fishing. Even if they failed to catch anything, he said, at least the kids went through the motions and practiced the sport.
“I do this with the children every year,” Huyck said of the event. “It’s always good to go outside and play and breathe fresh air.”
Aside from leaving with fresh fish to fry, the youngsters learned lessons in safety. Kim Malcom, a volunteer with Puget Sound Anglers and the Olympia chapter of Trout Unlimited, held up a smartphone and advised them what to say in an emergency: “Sorry, Dad, hurry up, bring the net. I got a big one.”
Water safety is actually no joke for Malcom, who said most drowning victims were not wearing life jackets. He told participants a tragic story about a man and two children whose raft had capsized on the Nisqually River. None of them wore a personal flotation device, and one of the boys drowned.
Saturday’s event was the 15th year Malcom has volunteered to discuss safety.
Clint Muns, a volunteer with Puget Sound Anglers, hoped the children were receptive to warnings about water dangers.
“Safety, safety, safety,” Muns told the youngsters. “You can always fish another day when you’re safe.”
Tumwater resident Rick Reimer volunteered at Saturday’s event with the Capital City Bass Club. One of his favorite memories is a whopper of a tale about a boy who caught a carp that weighed 5ß pounds. A herd of curious onlookers almost caused the dock to sink, he said, as they watched the boy fight with the ferocious fish. The rest of the day, the boy carried his catch around the park, eager to tell anyone and everyone the story.
“The smiles and the looks on their faces,” said Reimer, who volunteers at the event every year. “That’s worth it all to me.”
Long’s Pond is open for fishing year-round, but only for ages 14 and younger.
Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869