Eight-year-old Stefan Mootooveran stood on Crown Bay dock in St. Thomas, a fishing rod in his hands and eyes intent on the seas below. “I caught two fish. One was small and the other one was bigger,” he said.
Pleased with his catch, he still wanted a whopper to win the Virgin Islands Gamefishing Club’s (VIGFC) July Open Kids Tournament, held July 4. He didn’t have to wait long.
“All of a sudden, I felt the line get really heavy and pull, like it was stuck on something,” the young boy explained. Five minutes later, Mootooveran reeled in a three-pound-plus barracuda to the squeals and delight of everyone on the dock.
Over 160 junior anglers from toddler to age 15 took part in this annual event, hosted off the deck of Offshore Marine and designed to introduce kids to the love of fishing and the marine environment.
Four-year-old twins, Shawn and Ozzie Barton, were pleased with their bait size catch. “It’s fun,” they responded, about the morning of fishing.
Similarly, preschooler Robbie Liddle had a good laugh over his catch. “It looked funny,” he said. Father Aitch Liddle added: “It was a cowfish.”
Nine-year-old Bria Joyner had a classic tale. “I saw a shark and it was this big,” she related, her two hands parting further and further.
The overwhelming success of the tournament played out over the young faces. Even though not all participants reeled in a fish, or won a prize, everyone did catch a day full of fun.
Harry Clinton, VIGFC executive director, said: “Just the look on a kid’s face when they catch something is pretty special. The fish might not be any bigger than their palms, and there’s some little palms out there, but the look of satisfaction is the same as if it were a 1,000-pound blue marlin.”
1: Lawrence Aubain
2: Chelsea Aubain
3: Emory Rhymer
1: Triston Blanchard
2: Stefan Mootooveran
3: Noah Matthew
1: Richie Welsh
2: Michael Blanchard
3: Ashby Gibson
Largest fish: Stefan
Smallest fish: Thorne
Ugliest fish: DaNeil
Joseph (pearly razor fish)
Lawrence Aubain (queen parrot)