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StarBulletin.com

Youth fishing tournament brings smiles


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POSTED: Sunday, February 01, 2009

There are several very good reasons why the Hawaii and Waikiki yacht clubs' Junior Fishing Tournament is particularly newsworthy.

To begin with, it's Oahu's—and likely the state's—first fishing tournament of the year and as an annual event, it marked its 26th anniversary last Sunday.

Another reason for its notoriety is that it is held every January for not only the keiki of club members, but for scores of disadvantaged youths from Palama Settlement and Kuhio Park Terrace.

Still, perhaps the most compelling reason for anyone in the media to chronicle this tourney is the fact that it produces more smiles on more faces than any fishing event I know. And smiles can be a precious commodity in today's bleak economic times.

As with all fishing tournaments, the day began early at the HYC with every child being signed in under the supervision of HYC's Barbara Silvey and then assigned to one of the 23 boats operated by club volunteers.

The youthful anglers were then fitted out with proper life jackets, and after being offered a morning snack, were given a brief talk on boating safety and a final word on the importance of trying to keep alive any fish they catch.

Soon after boarding the boats, the 115 fisher-kids were drifting offshore above the reefs and trying to tempt anything below the surface to go after their bait.

It was good fortune the weather was particularly calm, as many of these anglers had never been out on the ocean and might have lost their smiles, among other things, had the sea been rougher.

The boats began returning to the HYC docks by 11 a.m. to give everyone a chance to weigh in their catch before being ferried across the harbor to the WYC for a poolside barbecue and awards ceremony.

The weigh-in, however, was the most delightful part of the day for most observers.

As each child proudly presented his or her catch, the official judges were tasked with the responsibility of not only weighing each small, lively flip-flopping fish on a postage scale, but also measuring its length and identifying its species.

The liveliest fish were then quickly returned to the water, with those that were a bit less than lively being resuscitated with the help of a jet of seawater from an electric pump.

I heard one parent reassure his child when a particularly large fish didn't respond to its resuscitation, “;Don't worry, we'll eat this one.”;

The barbecue at the WYC offered us spectators another chance to see smiles break out on the faces of the competitors because no one was left out during the awards presentation.

Trophies were awarded to the anglers who landed the heaviest fish, the most fish, the longest fish, the most colorful fish, the most unusual fish, and even the smallest fish. But best yet, there were also prizes given to all of those who never caught a fish.

If you are thinking you and/or your child missed something good—you did.

But remember, the 27th Junior Fishing Tournament is just 51 weeks away.