Why Washington Wants More Latinos To Go Fishing

Jun 25, 2014

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to get more Hispanic people fishing. And they’d like to get them to buy fishing licenses. That’d produce more revenue for the state. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Valeria Quinones, left, fishes with her family, Daniel Guerra, Elizabeth Guerra, and Ricardo Quinones during a fishing event geared to get more Latino people fishing.
Credit Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

About 150 people line the shoreline at the Beehive Reservoir in north central Washington. Spanish and English mix, as anglers plunk lures into the lake. And just as quickly as the lures sink to the bottom, rainbow trout bite down on the chartreuse-colored bait.

The small reservoir is about a 20 minute drive from downtown Wenatchee. But Norma Gallegos says it’s a trip made by only a few of the city’s Hispanic residents.

Gallegos: “Most of them have lived here for more than five years and never have been out here.”

Gallegos is with Team Naturaleza. That’s a group that connects Latinos with nature.

Gallegos says not many Latinos attend the fishing events she goes to.

Gallegos: “I look at the numbers, and our Latinos are not reflected in the numbers we want to see at the outdoor environments that this beautiful country has to offer.”

State officials say have another reason. Bruce Bolding manages the warm water fish program for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Bolding: “Traditionally natural resource agencies have not paid a lot of attention to them.”

In Washington, enforcement officers say migrant workers sometimes fish without a license. They are typically in the state only for a few weeks at a time to harvest crops. So the department is trying to boost outreach to the Latino community. Oregon is also working to encourage more Latinos to go fishing -- but to first get a fishing license.

This event is the first fishing clinic the state of Washington has geared toward Latino anglers.

Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Dan Klump sits in the shade of a white canopy. He passes out the state’s half-inch thick fishing rulebook.

Klump: “That way they can kind of have it in their mind of what’s legal, what’s not, and so we can avoid any possibilities of violations.”

Right now, the rulebook is printed only in English.

Officials say the agency is trying to make inroads into the community – as a way to help the cash-strapped department raise more money by selling more fishing licenses.

And a way to get a new generation interested in fishing. Nine-year-old Valeria Quinones helps put bait on her sister’s hook.

Valeria: “It feels like a marshmallow, and it feels gooey.”

The two try to cast the line out into the middle of the lake, with a little help from experienced fishermen.

Valeria: “It’s fun because you actually get excited, and you feel like you’re going to catch a fish.”

Valeria says she’s hopes her family will come back to fish at Beehive Reservoir soon.

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