One of the activities that has been allowed during some of these strange pandemic times has been fishing. And now, for those who haven’t had the inclination, or possibly the funds, to purchase a fishing license, the state of Washington is offering up another Free Fishing Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.
Yep, this weekend, anyone and everyone can go fishing, without having to buy a license. And to make it even more enticing, several lakes in the area have recently been planted with trout.
Anglers will not need a two-pole endorsement to fish with two poles in selected waters where two-pole fishing is permitted. Also, no vehicle access pass or Discover Pass will be required during Free Fishing Weekend to park at water-access sites maintained by WDFW or Washington State Parks.
It’s a great program offered up to help get more people interested in fishing. And this year in particular, it is a really nice chance to get out of the house, enjoy some beautiful Central Washington weather, breathe some fresh air and forget about these crazy times, at least for a bit.
Just a warning though, for many of us, fishing is certainly not free. As is the case with most other hobbies and pursuits, you can spiral down a deep dark hole as you get more and more into the sport.
Ah, for the days, when a cane pole, a short piece of line, a hook or two and a coffee can filled with nightcrawlers dug from the back garden, was all you needed to go fishing.
Actually, you can still fish that way. In fact, I saw some guys a couple years ago fishing with some monofilament line wound around a Coke can. They’d fling the line — tied to a hook and worm — out, letting it unfurl off the aluminum can. Then, when they’d get a bite, they’d wind the line in by hand, wrapping it around the pop can. It worked. I saw them catch several fish.
Unfortunately, most of us need at least a fishing rod, a reel, some line, some hooks and bait, or lures to feel like we are actually fishing.
Yes, you can find a decent rod for 20 bucks, and a reel for maybe 30 dollars. But some of us can’t live with just one rod and reel. We need shorter, lighter rods with spinning reels to fish for trout and kokanee. And medium length rods with bait casting reels are desired for walleye and bass.
Then, if you want to fish for salmon and steelhead, depending on how you fish for them, you might want a longer, limber rod with a spinning reel for river drift fishing, or a little different rod with a level wind reel for trolling.
If you are going for really big fish, such as sturgeon, you’ll need a longer, sturdier rod with even a bigger reel to hold more, heavier line to land one of these fish that might be six feet long or longer.
Some experienced anglers, who really have the bug, will have not one, or two, or even three different fishing rod and reel combinations, they might have dozens.
Not to mention the number of fishing lures we, I mean they, might own. Some hard core anglers will have a large tackle box for every type of fishing they do. And one tackle box might hold 50 to 100 lures of assorted sizes, colors and shapes.
Passionate anglers might have hundreds and hundreds of dollars tied up in fishing lures alone.
Today, you don’t have to look very hard to find a salmon fishing rod that sells for $400 or more. And fishing reels that sell for $150 are quite common. Want a big reel for saltwater fishing, you are talking $1000 or more.
Not surprisingly, there is a billion dollar industry that has been built around accessories for the successful angler. Fishing clothes, wading boots, vests, hats, sunglasses, rain gear, you name it … anglers need it to catch more fish.
Many anglers are very proficient at fishing from the shores of our lakes and streams. But many, many more want to get out on the water, which adds yet another layer of costs. A rubber raft or canoe will work, as will a kayak. But in just about every type of fishing, bigger is better when it comes to boats.
Of course, fishing boats need accessories, so once you start down the boat ownership path, be ready to spend some more dough on depth finders, rod holders, downriggers and more.
And, how are you going to pull the boat to where you want to go fishing. A tow rig of some kind is necessary. Cha-ching.
For the neophyte or causal angler, fishing actually is relatively inexpensive. Especially when you compare it to other sports or hobbies. For the hard core angler though, pursuit of their favorite pastime can get very, very spendy.
In fact, you would have to say it is rarely free. That is, except for this weekend, when the state opens up fishing for everyone, no license needed.
• Rob Phillips is an award-winning freelance outdoor writer who has written the Northwest Sportsman column for over 25 years. He can be reached at email@example.com