Junior event brings smiles
to many faces
IF you're like me and really enjoy seeing pure joy on a child's face, today's one of the best days of the year to have that warm experience.
The Hawaii and Waikiki yacht clubs are holding their annual Junior Fishing Tournament today and they've had 20 years experience in making sure every keiki has a great time.
The tournament is open to all children 17 years old and under, but its organizers go one step further and personally invite a number of disadvantaged kids from Palama Settlement and Kuhio Park Terrace to participate.
Last year more than 100 children took part in the daylong event.
The day starts with free registration at 7 a.m., after which the junior anglers are assigned to boats operated by club volunteers.
Rods, reels and bait are provided to every child, but the anglers are advised to bring their own gear whenever possible.
After listening to a short announcement regarding boating safety, the contestants will be given directions on how to keep their catch alive for eventual release.
By 8 a.m., the anglers will be boarding the boats that will take them out to Waikiki's offshore reefs and soon the fun will start.
As in past years, the children lining the rails of more than a dozen vessels will all be beaming with smiles as they do their best to lure a fish on their hook.
And, in what will seem like a moment, three hours will pass and it will be time for the official weigh-in of fish.
As the junior anglers reach shore, they must take their catch to a weigh master who is tasked with attempting to determine not only the weight of a small, living, flopping fish, but it's length and species as well.
For bystanders, it is usually hard to decide which is the most entertaining, watching the weigh master in action, or watching the pride and pleasure radiate from the faces of the anglers.
After the fish have been weighed, they are given a little saltwater resuscitation from a custom-built pressure line and returned to the sea mostly unharmed.
From 12:30 to about 2 p.m. all of the participants and volunteers will head for the Waikiki Yacht club's pool-side barbecue, where they will swim races and have the all-important awards presentations.
EVERYANGLER will win a prize of some sort, but there are a few contestants who will be honored with trophies for their outstanding catches.
A first place trophy will be awarded for the heaviest fish and another for the most fish caught -- by numbers and by total weight. Last year's big fish was a six-pound puffer and it was just barely eclipsed by one angler's total catch of seven pounds.
At the other end of the scale (no pun intended), there will also be a trophy given for the smallest fish, as well as the longest fish and the most colorful.
As you might guess, today's HYC/WYC Junior Fishing Tournament promises to be, as always, the next best thing to Christmas for the kids.
And unquestionably, for the adults putting on the tournament -- and the numerous spectators -- it's makes a wonderful day seeing children having a great time.
Ray Pendleton is a free-lance writer based in Honolulu.
His column runs Saturdays in the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.