Updated and corrected:
FISHING -- More than 900 youths are taking half-hour shifts today to catch fish and go home with a rainbow trout dinner -- as well as a new fishing rod and reel -- during Kid Fishing Day at Clear Lake.
Families that want the exposure to fishing but not the fish can donate their catch to the needy. Volunteer Jim Kujala was cleaning hundreds of fish and packing them on ice in a cooler when I dropped by.
He and his crew -- Dave Ross, Chris Helgeson and Jordan Briggs -- cleaned fish for a steady line of kids from 8:30 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. A couple of volunteers from the Spokane Walleye Club stepped in to give the crew a break, but Briggs, a first-time volunteer, was undaunted. "He already signed up for next year," Kujala said.
By the end of the day, the crew had cleaned and packed 251 pounds of trout. In the past the fish have gone to the Union Gospel Mission, but in recent years Crown Foods has offered to package and store the fish so members of the local Safari Club International chapter can distribute them to local food banks.
Meanwhile, most of the fish caught at the event went home with the families. "More people took their fish home than any previous event," Kujala said.
The annual event is supported by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Spokane Hatchery and dozens of volunteers, most of whom are anglers from local sporting groups.
Many kids catch their first fish at this event.
Volunteers say helping a kid catch a fish is as sweet as catching a big one themselves.