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Cape kids reel in fun at weekend fishing derby

By Staff | Jun 14, 2009

The pier at the Cape Coral Yacht Club was bustling with young anglers participating in the “Kids All American Fishing Derby” on Saturday morning.
Each year the club hosts the event for children on summer vacation. Mark Hunter, a recreational specialist at the Yacht Club, said that 130 children pre-registered for the event but many more showed up on Saturday.
“We’ve been fishing since 9:15 a.m.,” said Hunter. “We had a long line and it took awhile.”
Children in attendance caught an abundance of fish including mackerel, snapper, spadefish, sheepshead and even puffer fish. Upon catching the fish, each child ran it to the official’s tent where its size was measured and recorded. According to Hunter, the largest catch of the morning was a 19-inch mackerel.
West Marine, a national boat and fishing supply company with locations in Cape Coral and Fort Myers, sponsored the derby and sent 10 experts to assist the children with hooking and de-hooking fish.
Dusty Felts from West Marine was standing next to Max Ahmadi when he was one of the only children to catch a catfish. Earlier in the morning, Ahmadi had caught a large mangrove snapper and threw it back because the event was catch and release.
Felts helped Ahmadi pull the approximately six-inch catfish out of the water.
“These fins are poisonous, they have bad fins,” said Felts. “Be very careful when handling these fish.”
The sharp fins of a catfish are capable of literally “finning” an animal or person. They also excrete an extremely painful venom that may cause a tightening of blood vessels. Felts de-hooked the catfish, and moments later tossed it back into the water.
“This is the first catfish I saw all day,” Felts said.
As the derby unfolded the weather grew hot and humid. Even though the derby was advertised to end at noon, Hunter said it ended an hour early at approximately 11 a.m.
“It is getting warm, but the kids are doing well,” said Hunter. “We will try to fish until 11 a.m., because then the pizza is coming.”
Thirty free pizza pies were donated by Sal’s Pizza on Cape Coral Parkway. Other goodie bags were handed out throughout the morning and Hunter said the bait for the derby was donated by local bait shops.
Each entrant had to pay $8 to participate in the derby and parents had to pay an additional $2.50 if they wanted a meal.