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Here we are again: Washington State’s Free Fishing Weekend — for a great many youngsters, the waterside social event of the year. And a great opportunity for adults to get hooked or re-hooked on fishing, as well.

This Saturday and Sunday, you will need no license to fish in any open water in the state. Nor will you need a Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) Access Pass or Discover Pass to be on any public fishing water on DFW or State Parks ground. You will need to abide by size and bag limits and closures, but opportunities abound, and plenty of fat “truck trout” have been dropped into local waters for you.

See the 2019-2020 Washington State Fishing Regulation Pamphlet for rules and regulations (Free at any hunting and fishing license dealer or online at In addition, DFW has posted a great deal of help and fishing tips online (including recent stocking reports) at This site has a great deal of useful and valuable information for folks who have licenses and fish regularly, also.

The big excitement each year on our Free Fishing Weekend (is always the weekend following the first Monday of June) seems always to be the kid fishing derbies. There are many of these kid fishing events across the state and most of them are held on this particular weekend. There is something appealing about these derbies — watching groups of parents, grandparents and friends gathered around fishing holes cheering for kids fishing. Why not? As a friend reminded me decades ago, “Teach a kid to fish and she’ll hassle you for more ‘til she’s grown and gone!” Isn’t that one of the primary reasons we work to get kids hooked on fishing?

Here in Paradise, we have a couple great chances to get kids out on the water and fishing.

Here in the Lower County, our big Saturday event is the Kiwanis Kids Free Fishing Derby at North Fiorito. The Derby runs 9 a.m. to noon for any fishers 14 and under. There are abundant prizes and guaranteed family fun! Just show up and join the fun. Questions to Dale DeFoor at 509-929-0449.

Saturday’s primary kid event in the Upper County is the Annual Cascade Field and Stream Kids Fishing Derby (also 14 and under) happens under the sponsorship of the Cle Elum Ranger District and Cascade Field and Stream Club. Registration is at 6 a.m. at Lavender Lake, exit 74 off I-90. Overall prizes are awarded for the first trout, largest trout, and largest other-than-trout caught, and there are also prizes in each of four age groups for the three largest trout caught. Always a fine kid and parent morning! Again, just show up ready to fish or, if you need more info reach out to Don Frey at 253-631-4862.

The Kiwanis Pond (formerly the first Hanson Pond across I-90 from Cle Elum, south of exit 84) is not a “fishing derby” site, but it is popular and has been stocked with some very nice trout. It is open to kids 14 and under, disabled fishers with a designated harvester companion card, and seniors 70 or better. You are certainly welcome to join the gang there if you qualify.

While I now have only adults (Edward, last of the Hucklings, left “youth” some years ago), I do have a passel of grand-Hucklings. Their outdoor education needs furthering, so kid fishing in a couple western states lies waiting in the summer ahead.

Those now-grown Hucklings have been reminding me that Free Fishing Weekend are not just for kids. Adults become kids again when a frisky fish is suddenly at the end of the line flowing through the ferrules of the rod in their hands. Apparently, a couple of my offspring regularly get non-fishing friends and kids on the water. “It’s very cool, Dad,” I’m told, “When a fish bites, the parents start laughing and giggling just like their kids.”

You have plenty of time to plan something special for yourself and your kids or some friend who needs to try fishing again (or for the first time). Find plenty of resources, encouragement and coaching at, and get out there this weekend.

It is never too early or too late to hook someone on fishing and outdoor activity. It’s all about fun, yet it is also about an outdoor future for our children’s children and beyond. We will need every voice we can find.

It is summer (well, almost). Take a kid of any age fishing. Life doesn’t get much better.

Jim Huckabay is retired from the Department of Geography at Central. His “WILD WINDS and Other Tales of Growing Up in the Outdoor West” is available online and at bookstores. Contact Jim and join in discussions at


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