Got a young’n who’s interested in steelheading and might like to tangle with a hot hatchery summer-run?
The Reiter Ponds side of the Skykomish River will host the first of three Kids Steelhead Days on June 1.
All equipment will be provided and the event is open to anglers 14 and under from daybreak to noon.
“This could turn into a pretty cool kids event,” says Mark Spada of the Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club, which along with Sky Valley Anglers is putting them on.
The others will be held on the first Saturdays of July and August, the 6th and 3rd, respectively.
Where in past years Reiter and the Sky opened June 1 for steelhead, it’s now a Saturday-before-Memorial Day opener (May 25 this year).
WDFW will reserve the bank from the ponds outlet downstream 500 feet to the set of rapids between Reiter and Cable Hole for kids during the events.
While it may be tough for Reiter rats to yield that water during some of the season’s best steelheading, there’s still a lot of fishable bank on the other side of the river as well as above and below there, plus it’s for a good cause.
“I had this idea to try and foster a new generation of steelhead fishermen. I never see any kids fishing steelhead any more, and not really any good places to take a kid to catch his first steelhead,” explained Spada. “I’m hoping this program will encourage young anglers to engage in this iconic fishery.”
Though kids 14 and under don’t need a fishing license, they do need a catch card whenever fishing for salmon and steelhead.
Matt Kennedy of Sky Valley Anglers says the events are meant to be as hands-on as possible.
“We want the kids fishing, the kids learning, we want them casting,” he says.
For kiddos who limit out or get bored with fishing, Kennedy says he’s also considering bringing a table for tying up jigs and building spoons and spinners.
WDFW officers will also be on hand.
“This is a great opportunity for the next generation of Washington state’s steelhead fishermen and fisherwomen to learn from experienced anglers,” said Jenni Whitney, the state district fisheries biologist.
A flier Kennedy and Spada put together announcing the kids days asks that folks register for the events (call 206-876-0224; email Elementmasonry@gmail.com), which will help determine how many adult volunteers need to be on hand.
Where Spada’s Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club has been around for 87 years, many with the legendary Bob Heirman close to the helm, for Kennedy, getting involved is about focusing his efforts on his home system, whether that be volunteerism, cleaning up the river’s banks and, in the future, guiding. He says he’d also like to hold kids days during the winter run.
Reiter Ponds (45300 Reiter Road) is located off Highway 2 east of Gold Bar. Take Reiter Road for 2.5 miles and turn right onto a narrow paved road that leads to a long parking area, then walk down past the ponds to the river.
Kids Steelhead Days sponsors include Ted’s Sports in Lynnwood, Gibbs Delta, John’s Jigs, Pure Fishing, Element Outdoors, Dead Lead, Conti’s Custom Rods and Seaguar.