OLYMPIA -- Thousands of young people will have the opportunity to experience the fun and excitement of fishing perhaps for the first time when the Kids Klassic Fishing Series casts a lure in six cities around the state this year.
Open to kids ages 5 to 14, the series of day-long fishing events is sponsored by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), the C.A.S.T for Kids Foundation, and local businesses and organizations that hope to give up to 1,000 young people in each community a taste of the great outdoors.
Events are planned from April through October in Lacey, Vancouver, Renton, Spokane, Everett and Kennewick. (See schedule)
Veteran anglers from local fishing organizations will be on hand to give kids and their parents tips on subjects such as fly tying, tackle rigging, water safety and fishing ethics. Kids can also test their skill with a rod and reel in the Bassmasters casting contest that is part of each event.
But the main goal of the Kids Klassic is to "get a rod and reel in these kids' hands and let them do some fishing," said Fred Shiosaki, an avid fly fisher and member of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
"We want to give kids and families a hands-on fishing experience that can lay the foundation for a lifetime of fishing," Shiosaki said. "Fishing is a great family activity that can help young people develop an understanding and an appreciation of the outdoors. For generations, anglers have been some of the best stewards of our natural resources and we want that tradition to continue."
For a $5 registration fee, participants will receive a "Kids Klassic" T-shirt and a Zebco rod and reel, which are theirs to keep. Or they can bring their own fishing gear and participate in all the activities at no cost.
WDFW will stock all of the lakes and the Spokane River with trout just prior to each event to improve the kids' chances of success.
"We want kids and their families to see just how much fun fishing can be," said Jim Owens, director of the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation which is helping to coordinate the events. "Our goal is to get more kids fishing, more often, and to develop the future stewards of this resource."
The "Kids Klassic" schedule for 2000 is listed below. To register or get more information about specific events, call the contact number noted for each community.