File photo of a boat from last year’s Hooked on Fishing Derby. Photo by Kayse Angel

File photo of a boat from last year’s Hooked on Fishing Derby. Photo by Kayse Angel

Hooked on Fishing Derby: Preview

The 2019 Hooked on Fishing Opening Day is April 26

The 17th Annual “Hooked On Fishing” Trout Derby will be held this year at Lake Wilderness Park.

Events kick off Friday, April 26 at 3 p.m. with camping in the park, according to Erica Dial, Maple Valley Black Diamond Chamber president.

Maple Valley Mayor Sean Kelly said the derby is a great community event because it gets everyone involved, from Maple Valley Rotary all the way to King County.

Community members can check in at the BECU tent located at the park, and then they can set their camping tents up anywhere they’d like to.

During this time, All Trout Derby Tickets will be on sale.

Fast forward a couple of hours later to 5 p.m. and Dial said the Maple Valley Rotary will be serving hot dogs and hamburgers until 9 p.m.

Starting at around 6 p.m., she said there will be what’s called “fun and games,” hosted by Fred Meyer. This is a chance for kids in the park to participate in a series of games.

Not long after that, Tahoma High School’s Interact Club — a mini version of the Rotary, according to Dial — will host “Big Fish Tales” story time on the beach near the campfires.

Dial said kids who participate in the reading will get to take home a free book.

When dusk hits the outdoor movie “Cars” will start.

Once the clock strikes midnight, the fishing begins. The goal of the event is to find the tagged fish that is released into the lake.

“It is sponsored by Edward Jones and the fish’s name is Ira. They will release the fish into the lake on Thursday and then if someone buys a tagged fish ticket for five bucks and they catch the tagged fish and come to the headquarters with the fish with their ticket then we will give you a $300 cash prize,” Dial said.

In previous years, Dial said there’s only been a couple of instances where someone actually caught the tagged fish, but if someone catches the fish after the event is over and it’s within the season, Dial said they can bring the fish to the chamber’s office and they will give them $100 for it.

The other goal for fishers to try and achieve to win a prize is to catch the biggest fish.

Dial said fishers must bring their derby ticket in order to win, but prizes for the the top 100 biggest fish will be presented at 11:30 a.m. Those prizes are presented by Les Schwab.

The one change that Dial said folks are going to see this year is the breakfast will start at 5 a.m. instead of midnight.

She said if someone is really hungry though, snacks will be offered throughout the night.

Kids ages 9 and under will be able to participate in the “Fish School,” which starts at 6:30 a.m. The school is sponsored by Maple Valley Vision and Hearing and will give kids the opportunity to learn how to fish.

“We have volunteers that will help the child. They bait the hook for them and then they help the child fish. Hopefully they will get to catch their first fish and they get pretty excited about that,” Dial explained.

Kelly said this portion of the derby is his favorite part.

He said, “That’s the coolest thing in the world, is to see their faces when they catch a fish. Their little faces light up like it’s better than Christmas. It’s really fun to watch.”

The other great thing about the Fish School is the volunteers provide a lot of the fishing equipment for the kids, according to Kelly.

Also taking place at around this time will be “Fins and Grins,” a free photo opportunity for community members to take part it. That way, they will be able to show off the fish they caught.

“It’s just kind of a really cool community event that brings families together and gives excitement for little kids to catch a fish and all sorts of family friendly activities,”Dial said.

Kelly said he and his family plan on attending the derby. He said they will be camping out using the VIP tent they won at a rotary auction.

“So the three of us will be down there in the tent and then at midnight, if he’s awake we’ll go out there and fish a little bit,” he said.

The weekend before the Derby takes place on April 20, the Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Pre-Derby – Lake Wilderness Park Clean Up event.

Dial said the clean up event is to thank the city for supporting the fishing derby and for giving them the resources to do so.

She said community members and chamber members are invited to come out that day at noon to help clean the park up in order to get it in tip top shape for the derby.

For more information about the Hooked on Fishing Derby, go to

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Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in a neighborhood near you. You can read more of her writing on her website To see her columns come to life, follow her on Facebook at Living with Gleigh by Gretchen Leigh.
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