PATEROS – A family tradition that began six decades ago with a fishing trip to Alta Lake will observe its 60th consecutive gathering at the popular park and fishery on the opening day of fishing season on Saturday, April 28.
An outing that began with Rod Anderson and his three sons from Kirkland, along with a friend and his son in 1959 has now expanded into the third generation of participants with between 150 and 200 attendees at the annual Alta retreat. Anderson discovered Alta Lake in 1957 while picking apples in the area as a young man. Anderson returned in 1959 with his sons, Chris, then 10 years old, Tom, eight, and Steve, six. Fishing buddy Dick Dahl and son Rich, also eight, comprised the original six that began the continuing tradition. Of those original six, only Tom, now 67, and Rich Dahl, are still living.
“We grew up and moved away,” said Anderson. “But wherever we are, we fly in for Alta.”
“Members now come in from all over Washington but also from Phoenix, Dallas, San Diego, and even New Zealand to attend the event,” said Meryl Lipman, Communications Consultant with Washington State Parks. “
“My older brother passed in 2003,” said Anderson, “but five of his friends will be at this one.”
As a testament to the Alta Anglers’ dedication, the group returned to the lake in 2015, just months following the 2014 Carlton Complex wildfire that consumed homes, the golf resort, and facilities, including picnic tables.
“I had seen pictures of the devastation; homes burned along the course,” said Anderson. “Most of us camped in the loop where the hookup sites are near the entryway where the fire didn’t burn.”
The Pateros High School FFA chapter has devoted the years since the wildfire to rebuilding the picnic tables destroyed in the fire.
Sharon Soelter, Alta Lake’s ranger for the past 10 years said such loyal and long-term traditions tend to blossom in state parks.
“Most state parks pride themselves on their wholesome vibe,” said Soelter. “Kids can run around and be themselves, groups cook and picnic together and campgrounds are neighborly. It‘s a great tradition to start, continue and hand down to the next generation.”
While there is something for everyone who attends, the main activities now include a golf tournament at nearby Alta Lake Golf Resort, complete with awards banquet, bonfires and barbecues, horseback riding out of Whistling Pines Resort at the south end of the lake, shopping at cities around the area, and reminiscing.
“We had a kid’s fishing derby that began in 1998 and ran for five or six years until the kids got older,” said Anderson. “We also print t-shirts with a different design every year.”
Anderson added that one member of the group designed a different bumper sticker for every outing over a 40-year period.
“The Park Service told me they would like to have copies of those,” Anderson said.
The awards banquet, celebrating its 30th year this weekend, started out at the Whistling Pines Resort and then moved to the American Legion Columbia Post 97 Hall in 2003 at the suggestion of Legion member Roger Curry, a former Kirkland resident and Alta Anglers participant who had an orchard in Brewster.
This year, the group has opted to hold the event on site at the lake’s day use area.
For Anderson, one poignant memory resonates.
“There was a year I brought my dad, the original Alta Anglers, back to the lake after he’s had a stroke,” said Anderson, of his late father. “It was bittersweet.”
However, commenting on what his father, Rod, who passed in 1997, would think of how the Alta Anglers have persevered and expanded since. Anderson said, “He would be tickled pink.”
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