Getting Kids into the Sport
Having fun, spending time in the great outdoors, and perhaps catching a fish for the first time in their lives were some of the goals of the young anglers participating in the First Annual Young Angler Tournament at the Oceanside Pier on August 7th. Although some were "Pier Rats" whose knowledge of local fishing techniques was obvious, many were novices who had never fished in their lives.
Held on a beautiful day at one of California's iconic piers, 109 youth between the ages of six and sixteen competed for the individual prizes that were awarded to each of the age categories. Oceanside Pier's reputation for producing nice-sized spotfin croaker proved true and provided the eventual winner his winning fish but most caught at least a few fish.
Sponsors of event were the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), and the Oceanside Pier Bait Store. IGFA Trustee Michael Farrior was in attendance for the event, as was President of UPSAC Ken Jones and Board Members Ben Acker and Eugene Kim. Pam and Ed Gonzales represented Oceanside Pier Bait Store and provided invaluable help with the free food, prizes and tackle. Pam spent much of Friday preparing the bags of goodies while also coordinating the various food items and cooking equipment for Saturday. Ed and his crew cut up the bait early in the morning and put it in Baggies for the anglers. Catherine Miller and the San Diego Sportfishing Council provided many of the gifts and on Saturday a large group of helpers set up the fishing poles, signed in participants, and helped as judges during the event.
Many of the youngsters brought their own rods and reels, but 50 loaner outfits were provided by IGFA for those without tackle. Free bait as well as terminal tackle was provided for all participants by the Oceanside Pier Bait Store. Each of the age division winners won a rod and reel, a copy of Pier Fishing in California, and an impressive certificate from the IGFA. David Hernandez, the overall champion, received the same gifts but an even larger certificate and will have his name engraved on the beautiful perpetual trophy donated by sculptor David Wirth.
Following the three-hour derby, a raffle was held with prizes that included Okuma rods and reels, binoculars, and hats.
Jones commented, "Youth tournaments such as this help UPSAC meet one of its main goals, the promotion and education of recreational fishing for youth."
The winner of each category of the tournament were as follows: Six Year Old -Josiah Espino; Seven Year Old -Javier Cordova; Eight Year Old was a tie between Zachary Perez and Nathaniel Gonzalez; Nine Year Old-Riley Jarman; Ten Year Old-Ian Odnstock; Eleven Year Old-Nicholas Tagle; Twelve Year Old- Luis Madrigaz; Thirteen Year Old-Luke Konyn; Fourteen Year Old-David Hernandez; Fifteen Year Old-Jared Gauthier; Sixteen Year Old-Julia Gauthier and Grand Champion-David Hernandez. According to Farrior, "The age group categories correspond with those of the IGFA Small Fry and Junior memberships and each participant will receive a free membership."
In reality, all were winners! In addition to the food, fun and excitement of catching a fish and bragging rights, every participant received a "goody bag" full of fishing equipment, Frisbees, magazines and other items, as well as the chance to win some great raffle gifts. Everyone, organizers and participants alike, agreed that the tournament was a lot of fun and the organizers vowed that next year the tournament will be even bigger and better.