Inland Northwest kids brought trout dinner home to hundreds of tables last week. They owe the experience and a good helping of omega-3 fatty acids to a dedicated group of volunteers, and parents wise enough to take advantage of them.
More than 950 youngsters were registered for the annual Kids Fish-In on May 1 at Clear Lake. By the end of the day, they already had taken home thousands of hatchery-raised rainbow trout – or donated their catch to the needy.
For $5, each kid received a fully rigged Zebco fishing rod and reel to keep, plus a T-shirt and help baiting and catching fish stocked in net pens off the Fairchild Recreation Site beach.
About 25 anglers worked a full evening before the event rigging the 1,200 fishing rods – threading the line through the rod guides, tying on a swivel, attaching a hook and adjusting the reel drag.
On Saturday, the volunteer force mushroomed to about 80 men and women from area fishing clubs, colleges and other organizations who added sinkers and bobbers to the rod combos and kept the hooks baited as the kids took half-hour shifts at the lake’s edge.
They helped kids cast and stayed on hand to unhook the wiggling trout and bag them for the kid to pack home as a prize
For many kids, it was their first shot at fishing, which is the whole idea, said Fred Zitterkopf of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council.
Despite the finger-numbing cold breeze, one group of volunteers kept busy cleaning fish for the youngsters to take home.
If a family wanted the fishing experience but not the fish, other volunteers cleaned the trout and put them on ice for delivery to needy families.
Jim Kujala and Dave Ross cleaned and iced 200 pounds of fish they delivered to Crown Foods, which donated the work to process and package the fish.
Safari Club International volunteers delivered 75 large family meals – nine fish per bag – to area food banks.
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