Backers of the upcoming Free Fishing Weekend see these two days as a chance to introduce the wonders of angling to the next generation of Oregonians. But what they're really pushing is a gateway drug that for many will lead to a life of underachievement and dirty fingernails.
On the surface, an old sage helping a kid cast for stocked trout at Expo Ponds this weekend may appear to be a Norman Rockwell moment, Americana at its purest.
If the many downsides of turning your kid into an angler hasn't scared you away, then the upcoming Free Fishing Weekend represents a great opportunity to test-drive fishing, crabbing and clamming.
Several events are planned across the state on Saturday and Sunday, June 12-13, for would-be anglers who can get help from knowledgeable volunteers as they try their hands at fishing without paying for the normally required licenses and tags.
Those anglers who already have a combined tag for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and halibut, however, are required to log their catches.
Here are the events planned for Saturday at various water bodies in Southern Oregon.
Butte Falls Fish Hatchery: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event is for kids 12 and younger. The fishing pond will be stocked with 3,000 legal-sized rainbow trout and about 150 three-pounders, and the kids can keep up to five fish, two of which can be 16 inches and longer. Loaner equipment and bait will be available.
Expo Ponds: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parent supervision is required. Rods and reels will be available for loan and bait is provided, along with help for beginning anglers.
Hyatt Lake: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event includes free camping Friday and Saturday nights and free breakfast Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Rods and reels can be borrowed, and the bait is free. The BLM, Hyatt Resort and United Hunters & Sportsmen will provide boat rides. Kids can also paint fish to create a free fish-print T-shirts.
Lost Creek Lake: The International Trouters Society derby originally scheduled for this date has been canceled due an outbreak of blue-green algae.
Lake Selmac: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This event at the Trout Shelter by the boat ramp is for kids 16 and younger. There will be help for new anglers, free bait and loaner rods, and kids can make a fish print. A Coast Guard cruiser will be on display, and kids have a chance to win prizes.
— Mark Freeman
But what is that old dude really doing?
Although he may have the best of intentions, he's actually awakening the kid's deformed chromosome that makes those who suffer from it put piscatorial pursuits ahead of honest work, honest women and honest conversations.
In short, he's turning that kid into a — gulp — fisherman.
So be forewarned, you parents of impressionable youths.
The fishing faction is out this weekend to suck your children's futures into the bait bucket, replacing their potential to contribute to society with the need to wallow their days away along a river's edge with no interest in legitimate employment or truthful banter.
That's really what happens when you teach a kid to fish.
Teach a kid to fish, and you might as well hand him an Oregon Trail card, a bus pass and a lifetime supply of 1040EZ forms. That's because he'll quickly learn that full-time work is for suckers who can't tie egg-loops or Bimini Twists.
Teach a kid to fish, and you'll program him automatically to wake up three minutes before the 4:30 a.m. alarm sounds to fish for spring chinook salmon in the Rogue River, but he'll sleep through an 11 a.m. beep for Mother's Day brunch.
Teach a kid to fish, and you'll guarantee that one day he'll have a driver's license photo sporting a patch of chartreuse-glitter PowerBait in his beard.
Teach a kid to fish, and you turn him into a mathematical magician who can turn an 8-inch trout into a 14-incher just by letting it go. Give him a 14-pound wild spring chinook and — BAM! — it instantly becomes a 30-pounder as soon as it's released.
Teach a kid to fish, and he'll come to understand that the only Wedding Ring worth having is a spinner that's best served with a small piece of worm on the hook. Or a piece of corn, if he's fishing for kokanee.
Teach a kid to fish, and he'll grow up believing that the family refrigerator is the perfect place to keep cartons of worms. Right next to the beer.
Teach a kid to fish and he'll ask you to order the expanded cable package just to watch Larry Csonka catch the same chinook over and over again on Saturday mornings without ever realizing he once played football.
Teach a kid to fish and one day he'll flunk a job interview by intentionally botching the phrase, "Would you like to super-size that?"
Teach a kid to fish and he'll never own a truck but will always have a rig. He'll never have a suit but he'll always own the best rain gear Cabela's has to offer, and he'll wash his boat after every fishing trip but he'll never wash his waders.
Teach a kid to fish and he'll eventually be able to hold lengthy discussions about the relative merits of the articulated leech during a steelhead run but won't be able to understand why living in his parent's garage well into his 30s doesn't constitute being a leech.
Teach a kid to fish and he'll one day go to Maupin. On purpose.
Teach a kid to fish and he'll come to choose what house to rent for his family strictly on whether it has garage space for his driftboat and a covered porch for his smoker. Ol' What's-Her-Name can park that minivan of hers on the street.
Teach a kid to fish and one day he'll realize a little too late that Ol' What's-Her-Name's attorney is much better than his.
Teach a kid to fish and he might end up a Fish Hack, writing falsehoods about his angling pursuits in a local Fish Wrap while secretly dreaming of one day writing for an outdoor magazine so he can tell his buddies, "Now my lies are on shiny paper."
And if you end up teaching a kid to fish, the only two days he'll stay away from the water are Free Fishing Weekend because — like drunks who stay home on New Year's Eve — there's one time each year you just gotta leave to the amateurs.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.