RiverLife Ministries hosted a youth fishing tournament at Palm Valley Outdoors Aug. 21, the first of what it hopes will become an annual event.
Twelve boats and 23 young anglers took to the Intracoastal Waterway at sunrise to take advantage of an early low tide. The low rising water allowed boat captains to put their anglers on fish at the edges of creek mouths, on shallow mud flats, and around oyster bars, and then move into the marsh as the tide rose. By around noon, fly fishing anglers were also able to fish what’s known as a “flood tide,” when redfish venture deep into the shallow grass in search of crabs. It’s at this unique window of opportunity when an angler can actually walk on foot in the shallow marsh and sight fish for reds swimming in the grass.
Fishing concluded by 1 p.m., at which time boat captains, anglers and parents gathers for a casting contest and awards ceremony.
In the Younger Teen Division, Blaise Day won a $50 gift card to Strike-Zone with three redfish on bait. Stirling Mahan was awarded the same for a flounder on artificial, while Zander Wolf won a $50 gift card with most total points (having also caught three keeper-size redfish).
The Younger Teen Fly Division was won by William Cook, whose grandfather, Capt. Randy Lanier, works at the local fly shop, Black Fly Outfitters. He caught one redfish in the grass during the flood tide.
The largest fish of the day went to John Whitley, with a 26 ¾ inch redfish, earning him a $50 Cabela’s gift card. Winners of the casting contest were Georgie Sanders for longest distance and John Whitley for most accurate.
In the Older Teen Division, Carson King won the bait division with two reds and one trout as well as most combined points and most accurate cast, winning $110 in gift cards to Strike-Zone. Copper Bell won the artificial division with two reds and one trout, as well as the largest fish with a 23 ½ inch red, totaling $100 in gift cards. The Older Teen Fly Division was won by Andre’ Mauriello with one red caught in the flood grass. He won a fly box full of redfish flies, a hat, t-shirt and buff from Black Fly Outfitters. The longest cast award went to Landon Wilson.
Captains who volunteered their time for the tournament included Capt. James Dumas, Ryan Curley, Wes Davis, Cody King, Colton Stanton, Capt. Austin Bacon, Andrew Mizell, Rick Stoker, Capt. Robert Helms and John Mauriello, whose anglers scored the most points of any of the boats. Sponsors included Palm Valley Outdoors, Strike-Zone Fishing, Black Fly Outfitters, and Keith Tomaszewski for providing $100 in Cabela’s gift cards.