Free Seafood, Fun, Conversation

Kids under 15 can fish without a license in Washington State.

Kids under 15 can fish without a license in Washington State.

by donR   4/20/2015

Take your kids fishing, clamming or crabbing for a fun-filled day and lots of conversation. Washington State lowland lakes open up on April 25th. Kids do not need a license during the year unless they turn 15. Parents can tag along to watch. Read more for links and information about equipment costs, free Washington State fishing days, types of seafood to look for and some tips and tricks about harvesting and cooking.

Whether fishing, crabbing, clamming or just beach combing, it is great to have a family outing near the water. I have fond memories of salmon fishing with my grandparents, clamming with family and cray-fishing in Boy Scouts. We did not need a condo or RV to have fun. Hot dogs and fishing gear was all we needed plus a tent, sleeping bag, matches and added food if we camped overnight. Your family can have similar memories by planning outings with very little cost involved and a short fishing expedition is perfect.

Tip: Over my lifetime as an outdoors-man and commercial fisherman I have witnessed tragic accidents. Keep everyone safe by purchasing life jackets that are not torn and meet child/adult regulations. Preservers are sized by weight of the person and child preservers prevent the head from being trapped under water. Read the new regulations.

Spinning Reels ad rod kits are just fine for beginning anglers. Casting reels are a little more difficult to use unless trolling in a boat.

Spinning Reels and rod kits are just fine for beginning anglers. Casting reels are a little more difficult to use unless trolling in a boat.

FISHING  I called Fred Meyer’s store and they have starter fishing kits for $15 to $30. Even better, garage sales often have poles and all the gear for next to nothing because fishermen are usually buying new and better equipment. Make them an offer and you will be surprised.

All you really need for trout is any pole, simple reel, line, hook, bobber, sinker and bait. Actually kids often get tired so they can get by with sharing rods.

If parents go along with children and have no license, here are Washington’s policy.

“WDFW strongly supports and promotes youth fishing. Everyone 15 years of age and older must have a license.Children 14 years of age and under do not require a license though are still required to hold a valid catch record card where applicable. They must actively participate and be able to demonstrate the ability to handle the gear by themselves. They must
follow all the rules and restrictions for that particular species and/or body of water, and are allowed the same daily limit as an adult. Adults may assist and are not required to have a license if they will not be fishing/
harvesting themselves, but children must be present and take part in the entire process.”

Watch your state’s regulations and take advantage of fishing derbies and free fishing weekends. Washington State lets everyone fish for free on Sunday following the first Monday in June. No license is needed for fishing derbies.

Check your state’s fishing regulations for license info, seasons, and catch limits. Most states have reduced fees for kids, handicapped and senior citizens. Also, check to see if you need parking permits like a Discover Pass.

CRABBING  is described in a previous post, You have the option  of wading with a pitch fork or boating with crab pots.  Read more

Cray Fish are often found in small streams in the country side. They can be caught by making and using  a simple trap:

  • Use a 16″ X 16″ piece of galvanized 1/4″ wire mesh
  • Make a 1″ diagonal cut in each corner
  • Fold each side to make a slanted inward ramp
  • Tie 4 strings to each corner
  • tie them together in the middle making a sling
  • Finish by attaching a long rope to the sling.

To use, tie bait (liver or can of cat food) to center of trap, lower into stream and quickly pull as trap often as needed to catch crayfish. The sloping edge restricts craw-daddies from escaping quickly. Devein (see video) then cook in  boiling water with dill pickle seasoning. Eat the tail portion after removing the shell.

Clamming  is is a fun activity for kids. Contact your local sporting goods store or park department for information on where to dig. Clams like to lie just under the surface of pebbles or sand in the salt water low-tide zone. To find them, scrape the surface with a potato fork, small shovel or hoe. Read and follow the state regulations and do not harvest clams during a red tide.

Oysters are rich in iron. Return empty shells to the beach when harvested.

Oysters are rich in iron. Return empty shells to the beach when harvested.

Oysters are found clinging to rocks along salt water shores. Read and follow state regulations. A word of caution: Make sure you only harvest them on  public land. People living in beachfront homes usually own property down to the middle shoreline and they also own the oysters. Oysters often grow together in bunches so count each oyster when determining your harvest limit…not the bunch.

Use an oyster knife to pry the shell open and cutting the two muscles keeping the shell closed. Rinse the soft meat and store in a clean container. Save the juices that accumulate and use in sauces and soup stock. An easy but less healthy way to cook them is to coat them with a batter and fry them.  A simpler cooking method is to toss the unopened shell and oyster onto a hot BBQ grate and eat them after the shell pops open. Be sure to return the empty shells to the harvest area so the  calcium can enrich the water and oyster larvae have something to attach to.

For recipes, identification keys and harvesting methods, visit your state’s fish and wildlife department.

 Enjoy your outing and keep your family safe by planning ahead.