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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 4, 2011 at 8:02 AM

Free fishing and outdoors events geared to encourage kids and families to wet a line and get outdoors

To celebrate Washington’s Free Fishing Weekend on June 11-12 the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is offering free fishing days to area youth at three locations.

The Mount St. Helens and Cowlitz Valley Ranger Districts are planning free fishing events for June 11, and Mt. Adams Ranger District on June 18.

Also planned from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 11 is the National Get Outdoors Day at the Vancouver City’s Water Resource Education Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way.

Activities include a chance to win prizes by REI; meet former contestants as seen on NBC’s Biggest Loser TV show and join them in helping local food banks by bringing a non-perishable or canned food donation; have your picture taken with Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, Ranger Rick or the Howler from Radio Station 99.5 The WOLF; learn about forest fire prevention with Smokey Bear; paddle in a big canoe with the Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership; paddle a kayak in the Water Center wetlands with Alder Creek staff; send an arrow flying with Archery World or try disc golf with Next Adventure; improve your campside cooking with tips from a Dutch oven demonstration; get information about walks and hikes for local trails, state parks and national forests; and prepare for a summer splash with water safety tips.

Food will be available for purchase throughout the day. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Learn more about National Get Outdoors Day on their website.

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest will hold a free fishing event at the GO Day – Vancouver celebration.

Those who’d rather get away from the city to catch some trout that day, head up to Merwin Reservoir near Woodland or the Lewis County PUD day-use park near Randle.

The Cowlitz Valley Ranger District event in Randle is filled with fun events featuring a supply of 750 trout and other activities such as fish printing, casting demonstration, knot tying, educational displays and a fish quiz game.

Kids can develop angling skills in casting and knot tying while learning more about how to be good fisheries stewards. Every kid leaves with something; fish packed in ice, prizes, painted faces and T-shirts or a colorful fish print they create as a reminder of these National Fishing Week Events.

Another exciting option from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 11 is the Mount St. Helens Kids’ Fishing Derby. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will stock 1,500 large catchable rainbow trout in a netted-off section of Merwin Lake at the day-use area in Aerial Park.

Various volunteer groups teach kids how to fish, supply bait and loan fishing rods to kids. They also provide educational opportunities such as fish identification and habitat protection. Arts and crafts booths provide fun activities for kids.

Also on tap to make for outstanding memories are parades, face painting, make your own volcano, aqua-aquarium, boater safety, Gyotaku-Japanese fish printing on T-shirts and make-your-own pin on buttons. A 40-foot inflatable salmon tent kids can go inside gives storytellers the chance to entertain and promote good outdoor ethics.

Storytelling in a big fish tent is also a popular attraction at Guler-Trout Lake County Park in Trout Lake where the Mt. Adams Ranger District will hold their free fishing event from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on June 18.

This event also offers rainbow trout to take home. Many other activities will help fill the day like face-painting, storytelling, costume parades, casting competition and a lot more. Plus, this may be the only remaining location where you can still catch trout from a creek on a cane pole.

Visit to learn more at about the free fishing days and GO Day website.

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