Groups of children, parents and volunteers lined the shore of Long’s Pond in Lacey on Saturday, fishing rods in hand.
The young anglers baited their hooks, cast their lines and waited for a bite. Every few minutes, a child would squeal with excitement and a volunteer would rush over to help reel in a fish.
That’s the moment volunteer Mike Silvers, of Puget Sound Anglers, waits for — the moment when a child can fall in love with fishing.
“There’s no hidden emotion when they finally catch something,” Silvers said. “But it can go either way. I’ve seen kids run up and hug their fish, and other kids just want to stay as far away as possible.”
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The annual Lacey Family Fish-In is a joint effort between the city of Lacey and local fishing groups. Jenny Wilson, a recreation supervisor for the city, said about 570 children registered for the event this year, and more still signed up on the day of the event.
A netted-off portion of the pond was filled with about 2,000 fish. And for only $5, the children were given a fishing rod and bait.
Jocie Luurs, 10, and Brodey Luurs, 6, each caught two fish. The Lewis County residents traveled to the event with their mother, Christina Luurs, who wanted to teach her children the joys of fishing.
“I loved fishing when I was their age, and I wanted to pass it on,” she said.
While cleaning the fish, Jocie decided to name hers Bob and Sally. She gave each fish a kiss and joked about mounting one on a plaque.
In reality, the family planned to cook and eat the fish.