The C.A.S.T. For Kids Foundation Founder and Executive Director Jim Owens is a very dedicated person to provide disabled and disadvantaged children the chance to enjoy fishing, and getting all kids involved in this wonderful sport.
The Fishing Kids Program was established in 1996, and is built around the slogan “Getting more kids fishing, more often.”
Part of the program’s mission statement focuses by pointing out the Fishing Kids Events are designed to create and provide more fishing opportunities for urban youth ages 5-14.
For nominal $5 entry fee each child receives a cool Fishing Kids t-shirt, and genuine rod and reel to keep!
The group of kids fish on-shore for up to 60 minutes receiving instruction by experienced anglers, or guides, on angling techniques and environmental stewardship. Parents are encouraged to participate with their children and prior to each fishing session each group receives a tutorial on water safety.
During 2000, state Fish and Wildlife partnered with the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation to expand the Fishing Kids Events from one to nine across the state. Currently, there are 15 Fishing Kids Events in Washington hosting over 10,000 children each year.
On this sunny afternoon (May 16) at the Kids Fishing Event at Seward Park on Lake Washington more than 400 kids turned out to try their luck and to just simply have fun fishing.
Owens had a big smile on face as he watched kids catching fish after fish. He also says this event is dear to him in that some of the children are from the inner-city areas of Seattle where many don’t get the chance to experience what the sport of fishing has to offer.
When I arrived at 3 p.m. as the last public session was winding down, I witnessed a lot of happy kids catching trout much to the satisfaction of their parents nearby.
For me watching the excitement of a first timer hooking and landing a fish is just as satisfying as if I had caught it myself.
I’m spending the weekend with my oldest son’s Boy Scout Troop at the Seattle Chief Council BSA Thunderbird District Three-Day Camporee at the park.
Owens was more than happy to invite a group of younger scouts to try their luck as well.
I have to give a well deserved thumbs up to state Fish and Wildlife enforcement officer Erik Olson and some of his other partners, the Seattle Police officers, volunteer fishing club anglers, and numerous other volunteers for all their help at these events.
It was cool to watch the uniformed fisheries enforcement officers hooking, baiting and helping coach the kids to catch their fish.
It wasn’t long before my youngest son Tegan and friend Bryan Yee got their lines in the water.
We first tried some Berkley Gulp Red Salmon Eggs with no luck. Quickly I switched over to the tried and true old school rainbow Berkley Power Bait paste, and still no bites. Sometimes even what worked before doesn’t seems to entice the fish.
It was then I remembered about a sample jar of Berkley Gulp Trout paste that well known Pacific Northwest angler Buzz Ramsey gave to me to try at the Puyallup Sportsmen’s Show this past winter.
I quickly made the switch to this new “Fortified with Gulp! It was a white sparkled paste that claimed to have a 55-percent greater catch rate. “Our Most Powerful Formula Ever,” the jar said.
I stuck a small ball on and in less than 30 seconds we had one fish hooked and landed. Same program and another fish hooked in 20 seconds. We had a quick two-fish limit for my son.
I got young Bryan into the mix and he too landed two fish in a matter of minutes.
Special props to Buzz for hooking me up on this newly found paste bait! I definitely plan to use it in the future.
As the two boys headed to the fish cleaning station, I was introduced to FLW Bass Pro Angler Clay Dyer who made the long cross-country trek to Seattle after participating in the FLW Tour tournament on Beaver Lake in Rogers, Arkansas.
For those who don’t know about Clay, he was born without any lower limbs, no arm on the left side and a partial arm on the right.
According to his Web site, these limitations did not dampen his determination and positive spirit. Clay started fishing at age 5 and began tournament fishing at age 15. Highly competitive, Clay has not allowed his physical disabilities to be an obstacle, earning the respect of his fellow anglers on the pro circuit.
Clay is the national spokesperson for C.A.S.T. for Kids, and is a fishing guide for disabled and terminally ill children through the United Special Sportsmen Alliance.
On Sunday (May 17), Clay will be involved with the 3rd Annual Seahawks Fish & Feast Fundraiser supporting the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
The Seahawks players and coaches will host disabled and disadvantaged children from Renton for a morning of fishing followed by a lunch, live entertainment and an auction featuring a variety of local and authentic prizes.
Last year, the Seahawks helped raise $25,000 for the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation.
If it weren’t for these types of events a lot of children would never get the chance to experience the outdoors, and it touches my heart to know that so many people are stepping up to the plate.
To the many unnamed volunteers who spend countless hours doing what is right for children, to people like Jim Owens, Clay Dyer and Erik Olson. A big thank you for hooking all these kids up!
(Photos by Eileen Hamamoto)