HUB angling to get Whidbey Island kids hooked on fishing

Cody Wilkie, 14, of Clinton fights to pull a fish away from the boat launch floats at Bush Point on Aug. 25. He will be one of the instructors at a free children’s fishing class hosted by The HUB on Sept. 20 and 21.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Cody Wilkie, 14, of Clinton fights to pull a fish away from the boat launch floats at Bush Point on Aug. 25. He will be one of the instructors at a free children’s fishing class hosted by The HUB on Sept. 20 and 21.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

A bunch of people on Whidbey Island are hoping they can soon put the adage “Teach a man to fish” and apply it to a few dozen children.

The HUB, an after-school hangout for young people in Langley, is sponsoring a pair of free beach salmon fishing classes in mid-September. Their goal, summarized in the tagline, “Give a kid a fish and he eats today, teach a kid to fish and he’ll eat forever,” is to educate and equip children from 5 years old to 17 to hook into a salmon. Hank Hall, The HUB’s executive director, said with the abundance of hotspot fishing beaches around Whidbey it is important to give children the opportunity to learn.

“Introducing somebody young or old to fishing opens up a whole new attitude to their life,” Hall said. “It’s clean, it reduces stress … You can fill a freezer with an awful lot of salmon in a short bit of time.”

Hall, an avid angler, would know the benefits. He recalled being a boy in a single-parent household with no one having time to teach him how to tie a lure or cast. As a middle schooler many years ago, he wanted to learn how to fish and started a fishing club. That set him on a path to a lifelong hobby—one he says has regularly been a stress reliever, even when he doesn’t bring any fillets home.

One Clinton boy knows the benefits of regular beach fishing. Cody Wilkie, 14, will be one of the instructors during The HUB’s fishing classes Sept. 20 and 21.

This is a boy who knows his stuff. Almost every day during one of the fishing seasons, Cody takes the bus or gets a ride with his grandmother to Bush Point where he can cast for hours at a time. Last year, he caught enough pink and silver salmon to need a second catch card, though some were from a boat.

“If I’m not working or doing school, I’m here,” he said.

On Monday, Cody was at Bush Point next to the boat ramp with a dozen or so anglers lining the beach. After a few hours he had two hits, including one that fought its way toward the float pilings and broke free from the line while Cody was being interviewed and photographed. His two most important lessons: knowing the rules and sticking with it.

“I’ll them not to give up,” Cody said. “You don’t always catch something.”

For Cody, who has been homeschooled most of his life, fishing has been a way to make friends and socialize.

“I just enjoy reeling fish in and meeting new people,” he said.

The HUB is looking for lots of help in this endeavor. Hall said he wants at least 15 mentors for each day, so anyone able to spend a few hours teaching children how to tie on a lure and hook, how to cast, and how to feel in a salmon onto the beach. Gear is also needed, with an emphasis on rods and reels in “very good” condition, Buzz Bombs and rotators, and a small tackle box for student who shows up without any equipment.

Lots of groups and businesses are already involved, including The Fishin’ Club, South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District, Holmes Harbor Rod & Gun Club, Cabela’s Sporting Goods, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Ace Hardware and Sebo’s Do-It Center. Gear may be purchased and donated at the Freeland Ace and Sebo’s in Bayview. The HUB is also requesting someone to bring a grill to cook hot dogs, burgers and with any luck, a fresh salmon.

To help out or for questions, email or call Hall at 425-238-3229.

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