FINS, FUR & FEATHERS: Get the whole family hooked on fishing

Some of my fondest memories of my father are the times we spent together fishing. The memories are many from as far back as I can remember.

Likewise some my best memories as a father are the times I have spent fishing with my sons. Whether it was watching Peter land his first trout out of Baker or little Ben catching a mess of perch from Campbell Lake, those are times that are etched in my mind forever.

There are many activities that kids can get into nowadays, but fishing is one that an entire family can enjoy together for an entire lifetime. It is difficult to try and afford to license a large family and sometimes the cost is a prohibiting factor when trying to start a kid or loved one on fishing.

This weekend Washington, along with many others states across the country, are trying to eliminate one factor. June 8-9 will be a free fishing weekend here in the state. During this weekend you will not need a license to fish any of the local waters for a variety of gamefish. Be advised that you will still need catch records for some of the saltwater fish and all bag and size limits are still in effect.

The beautiful weather we have been having is just one reason to get out and enjoy the outdoors, now it will not cost a dime to see if you and the kids would enjoy fishing. This is also a great chance to get your significant other into an activity that he or she may find as fun as you do.

Fishing is one true activity that can be enjoyed by everyone, and any activity that can get family and friends together is something to cherish.

So now that you have no reason not to get out there and try, I will give you a couple of areas where you have a good shot at catching some fish.

Trout are still available in many of the lakes planted earlier this spring, but it is getting a little more difficult to find them. The longer days have caused many of the lakes to be loaded with weeds and the fish have moved to the cooler depths of many of the lakes. This makes casting artificials a little more of a chore than earlier. Your best bet now would be to try live bait or one of the commercial dough-type baits as far down as you can get your offering.

Shore fishing will be a little tougher, because the shallower water near shore is some of the warmest.

Another option if trout is your quarry is to head to some of the mountain lakes. The lingering snowpack is making many of the alpine lakes inaccessible, but there are a few that you can still get to. Blue Lake near Mount Baker should be clear enough to get to, but check with the ranger stations before heading into the hills. Baker Lake is another choice, with its many campsites and easy access; fishing for trout and kokanee would be a good bet this weekend.

The warm weather may shut down some of the trout fishing, but by no means does it shut down the fishing entirely. Many species wait for the warmer water temps to become more active.

If you want your loved one to tie into a bass this weekend, try points with a rocky bottom near the golf course and hatchery on Lake Whatcom. Try tossing crankbaits or tube jigs in a crayfish pattern.

Getting into a school of smallies is a sure way to get someone addicted to fishing. For the chance to get a lunker largemouth, Campbell Lake is by far the lake of choice. The big ones are now cruising the shallows in search of prey. Look for the fish in the shady areas amongst the lily pads and under docks and piers. Spinnerbaits in bright colors and crankbaits in a perch patter would be baits of choice. If you really want to have some fun try running a top running buzz bait in the shallows during low light conditions.

When it comes to taking kids fishing, it is more quantity than quality that makes the fishing. Perch are very active now and there isn’t a better fish to start the kids on. In the same shallows you would for bass, you can find schools of hungry perch ready to take your youngster’s worm offering. Other lakes to try would be Little Cranberry in Anacortes, along with Big, Beaver and Clear Lakes in Skagit County.

These are just the opportunities locally; you can combine this free fishing weekend with a camping getaway over the mountains where the choices are almost unlimited. No matter where you go, try and get someone new into the sport of fishing. We need future generations to join us on the water in order for our sport to survive.

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