Junior Fishing Tourney Reel Fun for Keiki

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (1/24/98)
By Ray Pendleton

They have done it again.

Last Sunday, for the 15th year in a row, the Hawaii and Waikiki yacht clubs put smiles on scores of youthful faces by cosponsoring another Junior Fishing Tournament.

Open to all keiki anglers under 17 years old, this year's tournament brought together some 140 kids from all over Honolulu. Among them were learning disability students from Washington Intermediate School and disadvantaged youths from Palama Settlement and Kuhio Park Terrace.

Of course, calling this just a fishing tournament and saying the participants were smiling is a little like calling Diamond Head just another hill. It was a special day-long event for everyone involved.

The day began at 7 a.m. with angler registration. Soon the contestants and boat skippers were receiving their instructions from HYC's veteran angler Al Bento, who had just two strict admonishments - "safety comes first" and "try to keep the fish alive." There were special prizes for anyone whose fish swam away after the weigh-in.

Within an hour, all the fisherkids had been assigned to one of the 20 boats club members had provided, and soon they were out hunting reef fish on the blue waters off Waikiki.

On board Frank Thomas' boat Hawaiian Clipper, several of us non-participants were able to cruise through the fleet and watch as laughing kids - many of whom had never been on the ocean - reeled in their small catches.

By 11 a.m., most of the contestants had caught something, so it was deemed time to return to the club to identify the catch and weigh it in. This, as always, was my favorite part of the day.

Imagine watching one child after another proudly presenting a small, flip-flopping fish to the celebrity weigh-in judge - state Boating Division's Jim Schoocraft - who had to identify the species, measure its length, and then weigh its slippery, jumping body on a postage scale.

The moment was only rivaled by the anglers' excitement in seeing their fish returned to water and watching them swim away - hopefully, with only injured pride.

After the weigh-in, all of the participants were ferried across the Ala Wai to the Waikiki Yacht Club pool area for the awards barbecue and various swimming contests.

As in past years, every contestant received a prize, but trophies - funded by Sea-Land Service - were awarded to those who had caught the heaviest fish, the most fish, the longest fish, the smallest fish, the most colorful fish and the most unusual fish.

Judging by all of the tired, but happy faces under all the "Hawaii Fishing News" and "Shimano" ball caps, I am sure the tournament's many sponsors are proud of their involvement and are already planning on making next year's event even bigger and better.

An upcoming event - presented by the Waikiki and Hawaii yacht clubs - which is open to all boaters, is the annual Opening Day Parade on February 7 at 9 a.m.

The parade - with the theme "Famous Boats of History" - will begin in the Ala Wai Harbor turning basin, proceed to Honolulu Harbor's Aloha Tower Marketplace for judging, and return to the Ala Wai by noon.

For more information page Ed Lott at 525-2010.

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