FISHING -- The cheerful squealing of kids catching their first fish was all the reward dozens of sportsmen and sportswomen needed for their hours of work organizing the annual Kids Fishing Day, May 2, at Clear Lake.
More than 700 kids took part in the event this year. For $10, they got to take home rod and reel rigged for fishing plus their limit of trout and memories of a great time on the water with their families.
About 11,000 rainbow trout were delivered in five truckloads from three hatcheries to be put in net pens around the docks and shoreline of the Fairchild Air Force Base recreation site on the lake, said Randy Osborne, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife district fisheries biologist who coordinated the effort.
"Anything the kids don't catch, we release into the lake for anglers after the last kid leaves," he said.
Volunteers rigged rods, baited hooks and helped handle the fish hauled in by the kids. Volunteers even cleaned the fish families took home. If they didn't want the fish, other volunteers cleaned them and packed them on ice for distribution to area food banks.
"We've had over 300 pounds of fish donated from this event in the past," said Jim Kujala, who opened a cooler full of fish on ice ready for the food banks to distribute. "This year we had only 154 pounds donated, which means more families were keeping the fish they caught. That's a good thing because it means they're taking the experience home."