More than 300 volunteers work to prepare pond for the thousands of children who will look to land a fish Friday and Saturday
VANCOUVER — Klineline Pond got about 14,115 new residents on Thursday as five truckloads of hatchery trout were hauled in and placed in the popular fishing hole.
With a little luck — and a lot of help from sponsors and volunteers — thousands of children who plan to take part in two days of derby fishing at Salmon Creek Park hope to reduce that number significantly beginning Friday morning.
That’s when Klineline Kids Fishing, the nonprofit that makes the family-friendly event succeed each year, will hold its annual kickoff to the derby by opening the shores of the freshly-stocked lake to children with special needs.
Bill Czech, president of the nonprofit behind all the fishy action, said last year’s special needs day unfolded with a backdrop of “absolutely typhoon weather.” Despite that meteorological chaos, 300 kids signed up for the Friday fishing and more than 700 turned out on the morning of the event. Rain is expected this Friday, but not at the level of intensity seen in 2017.
“I expect all of that 700 and more Friday,” Czech told ClarkCountyToday.com as he and dozens of others continued to make final preparations Thursday afternoon.
The opportunity to watch and assist children with special needs as they experience the joy of landing a fish on the other end of their line is intoxicating, he said. In fact, it’s his favorite part of the whole weekend.
“The biggest reward is tomorrow,” Czech said. “You can’t stop the special needs kids. It’s infectious. They’re having such a good time, you can’t help but have a great time watching them.”
Friday’s fishing is expected to last from sunup through about 4:30 p.m.
Then, come Saturday, the big show arrives, with fishing for those ages 5 to 14 beginning at about 6:30 a.m. and lasting through 4 p.m.
More than 3,000 youths are expected to take up residence along the shores of the pond in hopes of landing a fish Saturday. Along with parents, guardians, volunteers and others, the park is expected to see anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 visitors during the two-day event.
It’s never easy to predict what the turnout might be, but Czech said regardless of the final tally, it brings he and other volunteers great joy to see so many children getting outside and taking in the experience.
“It’s just great to be around a bunch of kids,” he said. “It’s like, quit taking yourself so seriously and have fun.”
That fun is made possible by a list of agencies, organizations, businesses and volunteers so long that Czech hesitated to start naming them.
“We have all these area fishing clubs, lots of businesses, nonprofits … I don’t want to really name anyone because I’m afraid I’ll leave someone out,” he said.
Over the course of the weekend, there will be more than 300 volunteers giving their time and expertise to pull off the event, he said.
As for the fish, Czech said a total of 14,115 were stocked in netted areas around the banks of the pond Thursday morning. Of those, there are about 90 4-year-old fish and 425 3-year-olds. Young anglers will be lucky to bring one of these to the surface, as they’ll weigh between 5 and 10 pounds. The remaining fish will be in the “two fish per pound” range.
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, placing the fish — which come from hatcheries — in netting a day prior to the event allows them to acclimate to their new surroundings before the derby begins.
Klineline Pond will reopen to public fishing on Monday after volunteers successfully remove the netting from the pond and otherwise clean up after the event.
To learn more about Klineline Kids Fishing, visit www.klineline-kf.org.