The annual free Bellingham area youth trout fishing contest, the first of five tests this year of young angling prowess here in Whatcom County, is set for Saturday, May 10, at Whatcom Falls Park.
Sign-up for the angling action begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday whenyoung trout enthusiasts will compete in two age groups. Older anglers fishing in the late stanza can register from 10-11 a.m.
? Youngsters up to age 9 fish from 9-10 a.m., with winners in both girls and boys divisions receiving their prizes in a ceremony taking place immediately following.
? Older youth, ages 10-14, start plumbing the derby pond's depths at 11 a. m. for one hour, after which winners, again in boys and girls divisions, get to pick their prizes.
Anglers earn the opportunity to pick from the prize collections based on when they catch and enter their two-trout limit with the derby record table.
Much of the treasure trove of outdoors and fishing gear to be won at this event is donated by local businesses with the club also chipping in to get some of the prizes.
Steelheader President Dave Bailey thanked Yeager's Sporting Goods in Bellingham, Dave's Sports Shop in Lynden and LFS Outdoors and Marine in Bellingham for their generous support of the kids derby.
The club also will have free hot dogs and beverages for participants that are provided by Haggen Northwest Fresh Market at Barkley Village, said Bailey.
Besides the prizes and refreshments, steelhead club members will be standing by on the bank to assist any young hands who need a little help tying on or baiting a hook.
A co-sponsor for the Steelheader youth fishing derby is the City of Bellingham's Parks and Recreation Department and Bailey said Bellingham's Public Works Department also is assisting by managing flows from Lake Whatcom during the event to make it easier for young fishers ply the derby pond.
For this and other area kids fishing contests a horde of rainbow trout are raised and provided by the Hatchery Division of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife with help from Bellingham Technical College students in the school's Fisheries and Aquaculture Program. They also assist in getting the derby pond set up for the event.
The Whatcom Falls Park juvenile fishing pond is located north of the Electric Avenue entrance to the park where there is limited parking lot space. Participants also can get to the pond via the Silver Beach Road park entrance off Lakeway Drive at Kenoyer Drive and a stroll through the trout hatchery.
Parking is very limited in the park, so it behooves contestants and their families to arrive early and be prepared for a walk. Taking the bus out to the park for the morning is a good strategy, however there's limited cover in case of showers so be sure to put a rain jacket or sweater in the knapsack.
At least four more youth angling contests are regularly held during the spring and summer months here including:
? The Lynden Kid's Fishing Derby, organized by the Camel Club of Lynden. A penned-off reach of Fishtrap Creek in Lynden City Park on Depot Road is the scene of this early June youth/trout set-to.
? The Howard Bowen Memorial Kids Fishing Derby, organized by American Legion Post 212 of Sumas. In an arrangement similar to Lynden's, a section of Johnson Creek in Sumas's main city park is set up for this kids' fishing event.
? The Rudy Horat Memorial Bluegill Tournament, organized by the Borderline Bassin' Contenders Club. This youth fishing contest is held at Fazon Lake on a Saturday in mid-June.
? The Youth Division of the Bellingham Salmon Derby, organized by the Bellingham Chapter of Puget Sound Anglers. This year on July 11-13 youngsters choosing to fish this division pay no entry fees to compete for their own set of prizes.
GOING FOR DEEPER DELICACIES
Personal use fishing horizons broaden for bottom-dwellers in May as opportunities for shrimp (prawns and other species), lingcod, cabezon and halibut open up in greater Puget Sound waters.
Inside (greater Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca waters) halibut fishers are on a tightened schedule of open days this spring aimed at holding catches within the zonal allocation of the IPHC's overall Washington sport fishery quota.
A total of eleven flattie-dedicated days, May 9, 10, 17, 22-25, 29-31 and June 7 comprise the inside opportunity throughout Puget Sound and this year's west Strait of Juan de Fuca fishery, also considered a portion of the inside offering, will coincide with the last eight days of that schedule.
The 2014 hook and line opportunity for toothsome lingcod opened Wednesday, May 1, and runs through Saturday, June 15, with a one lingcod, between 26 and 36 inches in length, per day bag limit. Between Tuesday, May 21 and Saturday, June 15, spearfishers may take one a day up to a maximum length of 36 inches.
Cabezon also are fairgame now with an 18-inch minimum size and one fish a day rules.
Washington's four ocean coast sport fishery management zones also are open for these food- and shellfish species in May as well.
Personal use fishing for salmon in Marine Area 7 and most other inland waters management zones is now in hiatus to allow adult spring chinook time to get into and migrate up their natal Puget Sound streams.
Saltwater haunts off western Whatcom County reopen for the summer season Tuesday, July 1, with the Bellingham Puget Sound Anglers Salmon Derby slated for the second weekend.
Spring trout fishing season is underway (from the fourth Saturday in April) in many hatchery-stocked lakes statewide. Included on that long list are four favorite Whatcom County rainbow waters, Padden, Silver, Toad and Cain lakes.
The start of summer stream trout and salmon fishing season is just short of a month off.
The first Saturday in June (June 7 this year) is the magic day for a number of select streams that open specifically for trout and other gamefish. Many of those same reaches open up in July, August or September for chinook, coho and/or chum salmon.
The over-arching rule now is that all watercourses in the greater Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca basins are permanently closed to all angling unless expressly opened by regulation for either gamefish (trout, steelhead, bull trout) or foodfish (salmon, sturgeon or shad).
One local exception to the summer river fishing regime for salmon in Northwest Washington kicks off a bit earlier the rest when the upper Skagit opens Sunday, June 1 for spring chinook. A second in-river salmon fishery in the Skagit starts Saturday, June 14 when the Mount Vernon to Gilligan Creek reach opens for sockeye.
Though it opens for gamefish June 7, it won't be legal to ply the lower main Nooksack's reaches for salmon until Monday, Sept. 1.
BELLINGHAM KIDS' FISHING DERBY
When: 8:30 a.m., Saturday, May 10
Where: Whatcom Falls Park