MARYSVILLE — For the families who took part in the annual free fishing derby at Jennings Park May 7, the pleasant setting and shared experience were more important than whether they ate fish dinners that day.
Bill Cayson’s son, Huntley, was barely big enough to hold his pole without his dad’s hands supporting him.
“We came last year and he caught one, so he wanted to do it again,” Cayson said of his 3-year-old. “He’s not much for eating fish, though. Unless it’s fish and chips, but I don’t think you can catch those here,” he laughed.
Cayson learned how to fish from his uncle in Eastern Washington, and with a family of his own, “I’m ready to start all over.”
Carter Brewster, 7, has been a regular fisher at the Jennings Park Pond for years, but this marked the first year he stopped by during the fishing derby.
Carter and his dad, Craig Brewster, enjoy their fish “fried up and crispy,” but even before they belly up to a plate, they’re content to take in the pastoral scenery.
“It’s nice and peaceful, when you’re out in nature,” said the senior Brewster, who learned how to fish from his own father. “Plus, I get to spend time with my family, and we’ve run into so many people here that I know. It’s excellent.”
RyAnn Hansen, who gave her age as 9 “and a half,” estimates that she’s been fishing since she was 3.
“I like catching fish, because it’s like a surprise,” said RyAnn, who takes her fish baked or smoked.
At 11, Logan Maddock has been fishing for three years, but had never dipped his pole into the Jennings Park Pond before.
“I don’t like fish dinners,” Logan said. “They’re too boney. I’m more into the anticipation of catching them.”
Although Logan’s father, John Maddock, was proud of the big fish that his son caught this year, he admitted that he was mostly along for the ride.
“His grandfather taught him to fish, not me,” Maddock said.
Event co-founder John Martinis, owner of John’s Sporting Goods in Everett, guessed that as many as 600 kids turned out that Saturday morning.
Even with that many attendees, the fact that the Everett Steelhead & Salmon Club stocked the pond with more than 4,000 fish led Martinis to conclude that its fishing would remain good for a week and a half.
“Jim Ballew and I started this event for our own kids, back when we were in our twenties,” Martinis said, referring to the Marysville parks and recreation director. “Now, our kids are bringing their kids to fish at Jennings Park.”
Dave Hall, athletic coordinator for the city, added that attendees also donated 256 pounds of food and $93 in cash to the Marysville Community Food Bank.
The club invites fishers from 5-14 years old to join them again at the North Gissberg Pond of Twin Lakes Park in Lakewood from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, for another free fishing event.
For details, log onto www.esscwa.com.