Puffer Fish Eels and Crabs at Boy Scout Handline Tourney

Seven-year-old Amari Hector struggled to carry a big bucket – filled to the brim with a nearly bigger fish – up to the weigh station at American Yacht Harbor, during the 14th annual Innovative Wireless Boy Scout Handline Tournament, held August 29. Once
there, Ruth Gomez of the USVI’s Department of Planning and Natural Resource’s Fish & Wildlife division hoisted the young girl’s puffed up puffer fish onto the scales. A whopping 6.4 pounds! Hector beamed with pride.

Hector’s aunt, Ida Nibbs, describes the catch: “I’ve always brought my sons to this tournament, but they aren’t here this year, so I brought Amari. We had just gone out to the dock when we saw the fish. It busted the line when it first hooked on. Then I put a new line on with wire that went down to the hook. That did the trick. I think she was surprised with its weight when it finally bit.”

Over 200 boys and girls age 17 and under and equipped with complimentary hook-rigged handlines and squid for bait found their hot fishing spots along the docks and started casting about. Within minutes of the tournament’s beginning, the first successful anglers were running up to have their catch weighed and identified. Fearsome barracuda, colorful snapper and long needlefish were among the marine booty. Oftentimes, these fish were pulled out of the water by anglers so junior that they wore their tournament T-shirts like long dresses.

Then, there were a few catches that didn’t quite count as fish.

“I caught a crab,” said 10-year-old Shannon Newland, holding the crawly creature up like a prize.

Eight-year-old Jasmine Bryan screamed in delight when the long slinky foot-long eel she’d been watching under the dock finally nibbled its way onto her line. “I saw it swimming around and really wanted to catch it. And, I did,” Bryan explained.

After two hours of fishing, and lots of catching, it was time to tally the winners. Among the champs was Hector, whose puffer fish earned her a duo of first place prizes for Largest Fish and Longest Fish in the 10 and under age category. “It was fun,” she said from the podium.

Will Hector fish again next year? “Yes,” she said with a shy smile.

RESULTS

Ugliest Fish –
Alec Taylor

Hard Luck – Caitlynd
Born

Under Age 10

Most Fish

First Place –
Christopher Ashtian

Second Place –
Michaela Phelan

Third Place –
Tevin Peters

Largest Fish

First Place –
Amari Hector

Second Place –
Tevin Peters

Third Place –
Jeremy Daniels

Longest Fish

First Place –
Amari Hector

Second Place –
Rachael Brown

Third Place –
Alec Taylor

Age 10 and
Older

Most Fish

First Place –
Owen Kaestiner

Second Place –
William Bailey

Third Place –
Shamal Gabriel

Largest Fish

First Place –
Ronal Joseph

Second Place –
Grant Livisay

Third Place –
William Bailey

Longest Fish

First Place –
Grant Livisay

Second Place –
Ronal Joseph

Third Place –
Shamal Gabriel

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