Washington >> For the past 10 years, the Greater Seattle Chapter has introduced local youth to the joys of fishing — and the local community to the League.
Located just east of Seattle, the town of Yarrow Point is surrounded by Lake Washington. Bruce McGlenn, an avid angler who served nine years as Greater Seattle Chapter president, thought fishing was an ideal way to get kids involved in an outdoor experience that would help them appreciate their natural surroundings. So the chapter launched an annual fishing derby in 2006. Adding to the festivity of the event is that it’s held each year on the Fourth of July!
However, this fun fishing derby is also serious business. The official start time is 6:30am, and eager young anglers stay at it until the final moments at 10:30am. Chapter members pitch in where needed to keep things running smoothly — baiting and removing hooks, weighing and measuring fish, and recording each catch. Once a fish is weighed, measured, and de-hooked, the boy or girl who caught it then releases it. For some, it is their first time holding a live fish.
Nearly 30 young anglers — ranging in age from 4 to 14 — take part in the derby, catching perch, sunfish, bass, crappie, and the occasional trout and squawfish. The "official record" is kept on a large easel, and everyone gets a chance to review the final totals, which also show youth the types of fish that inhabit the waters around where they live.
The chapter hands out IWLA membership brochures and other materials at the end of the derby and, for the past seven years, has provided up to 15 participants with a free one-year chapter membership. Tackle, rods, and reels donated for the event by parents are handed out as prizes. Derby participants have also been able to ride on the chapter’s float later that day in the community Fourth of July parade.
"Greater Seattle Chapter members look forward to this event every year," says Andrew McGlenn, current chapter president. "It not only gives young boys and girls a chance to ‘catch the big one’ and connect with the environment, it provides an opportunity for the community to reconnect through an educational and entertaining experience."