AVILA BEACH — Ideal weather was on tap for the 80 young anglers, parents and volunteers who arrived early to sign up for the IGFA/UPSAC Young Anglers Tournament, July 7 at Avila Pier. The tournament volunteers were ready and eagerly waiting. There was free loaner tackle, bait, hot dogs, raffle prizes for every child, and an age-group winner in each category!
Imagine 360 degrees of salt water surrounding your every move, the summer sun kissing your skin and the ocean's breeze dancing all around you.
The excitement of the possibility of catching a fish — which in many cases might be their first fish ever — helped fuel the enthusiasm. It was only minutes after lines in the water that the first fish of the day came over the railing. Although the fishing was tough, nearly every youngster caught “something” adding to the day's success. Shouts of "I got one" followed by laughter could be heard up and down the pier as cabazon, jack smelt, kingfish (white croaker), small rockfish, sand dabs, staghorn sculpin and a lone squid were caught.
Age group winners:
6-year old Kobe Keovilai;
7-year old Gavin Kidd;
8-year old (tie) Caleb Reed and Laura Alvarez;
9-year old Rebecca Cagle;
10-year old Matthew Keovilai;
11-year old Darian Cagle;
12-year old Justin Selken;
13-year old Brandon Suarez;
14-year old (tie) Michael Cagle and Amanda Avilia; and
15-year old Dalton Walker.
All winners received trophies, certificates from the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), and autographed copies of the book Pier Fishing in California by Ken Jones.
Overseeing activities was Event Coordinator Michael Spence from UPSAC, along with his wife Cheryl. Jones, President of UPSAC; Robert Gardner, Vice President of UPSAC; Brian Linebarger, Secretary of UPSAC; Cheryl Spence, Boyd Grant, Richard McIntosh, John Burke, Kevin Branx, and Louis and Denise Dornbush, owners of the Avila Bait and Tackle store pitched in to ensure the day's activities went smoothly.
Carrie Wilson, California Department of Fish and Game, and her husband Jeff were on-hand with an informational display during the event, teaching the young anglers about the popular California Fishing Passport Program. As fish were caught, the species would be stamped in the booklets.
Raffle prizes were donated by NOAA, the California Department of Fish and Game, Fish Taco Chronicle magazine, The Tidepool (Cayucos), Oceanside Pier Bait & Tackle, and the San Diego Sportfishing Council. The grand prize, two half-day fishing trips, was donated by Patriot Sportfishing of Port San Luis. Special thanks go to Mara Ziehn and the Port San Luis Harbor District for use of the Avila Pier.
Commenting that it was seldom that they had the opportunity to introduce sportfishing to so many young anglers at once, the volunteers enjoyed the day as much as the animated group of young anglers who were so easy going and polite.
There are four scheduled events this year. The remaining IGFA events are:
July 21 — Paradise Park Pier Highway 101 to the Tiburon exit (State Highway 131). West on Tiburon Blvd. to Trestle Glen Blvd. where you will turn left; follow this to Paradise Dr.; turn right a short distance to the entrance of the park.
Aug. 4 — Oceanside Pier From I-5 take Mission Blvd. west to Pacific, turn left and follow it to the pier.
For more information www.californiaigfa.org/
EIGHT-YEAR-OLD Caleb Reed receives his awards and certificate from Ken Jones, President of United Pier and Shore Anglers of California.