Free fishing, parks admission lure crowds

With fishing licenses and park fees not required over the weekend, folks head outdoors to enjoy fun in the sun

rboone@theolympian.comJune 9, 2014 

If free stuff gets you excited, then this past weekend was for you.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife had a free fishing weekend — meaning no fishing license was required — and Washington State Parks, in light of the free fishing weekend as well as National Trails Day, made it free to attend any state park without a day-use fee or Discover Pass.

Normally that’s $10 for the day or $30 for the year, or slightly more depending on how the passes are purchased.

All of that meant that Millersylvania State Park in south Thurston County was busy.

Saturday was especially busy, said Jody and Arlene Gunter, the owners of Lakeside Grill & Boats, a seasonal business that faces the swimming area at Deep Lake and that provides food and other amenities, such as ice, to those visiting or camping at the park. It also rents paddle boards, kayaks, canoes and pedal boats.

In fact, the couple said it was so busy on Saturday that they had to resupply their business on Sunday. Sunday wasn’t as busy, likely because cloudy skies didn’t give way to sunshine until after lunch. But that didn’t deter everyone.

Dan Septon of Roy visited the park for the first time with his girlfriend’s family, he said. He learned about the no-license-needed weekend and no Discover Pass requirement after he got to the park, although it didn’t apply to him because he already has both.

Septon said it was his first time at the park because he prefers to travel to the Moses Lake area in Eastern Washington, where the weather is warmer.

Chase Deyette of Olympia camped at the park Saturday night and then did some leisurely fishing from the shore about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, resulting in very little, he said.

“Not even a nibble,” Deyette said.

But Lynn Harding of Olympia was well aware that it was a free day to visit a state park, joining a friend to do a little kayaking on Deep Lake. Harding typically kayaks at Boston Harbor or Budd Inlet, but this was her first time on the lake.

She said she heard about the free weekend on the radio, but she also has co-workers who enjoy the outdoors so there was no chance she wasn’t going to hear about it.

“They know about these things,” she said.

Harding also praised the area between Olympia and Portland, saying it has a little bit of everything, including the ocean and the mountains.

“I like to get out and enjoy our Pacific Northwest,” she said.

Free fishing weekend might be over, but more free days are set for state parks. Here are the remaining dates for free days.

June 14: National Get Outdoors Day.

Aug. 25: National Park Service’s birthday.

Sept. 27: National Public Lands day.

Nov. 11: Veterans Day.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 rboone@theolympian.com

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