I have to take the time to brag on my son, I entered him into the Kids Tournament located at the wharf, in Orange Beach, Alabama. The kid fished hard for four hours straight, and it paid off for him. Out of 136 anglers, he took 1st place in master angler category, with a total of 43 fish. Nobody was even near him, 2nd place was 24 fish, and I must say, as humble as I try to be, this dad was pumped! This was our first tournament together, and not only did he take first place, he beat the combined total of 2nd and 3rd place.
Tournament fishing is all about strategy, and I had come up with us a sure thing. (Almost unheard of in the fishing world!) There were a few different categories including heaviest fish, longest fish, most fish, and most odd fish. We decided to go for the most fish, and maybe set aside a portion of time for heaviest fish. With some anglers headed offshore, I knew our chances at big fish were slim.
Our strategy was simple, I had a spot that was, key word here, "was", loaded with all sorts of smaller fishes that he could catch quick and easy by himself. I tied him on a two hook rig on a rod given to him by the tournament sponsors. First cast, two fish, I knew then we had a shot at this thing. We continued on until we had an estimated 40 various fish, along with some smaller ones, but that was ok, they all counted and they were part of the plan anyway.
We took some of the smaller fishes and placed them in the bait well, in hopes of finding of school of bull red fish. With a southeast wind and incoming tide, the water was crystal clear, which isn't exactly optimal for large schools of bulls where we fish. But, if you don't try, you'll never succeed. I set us up a drift to where we drift directly over some scattered rocks, so Bryce could continue two hook fishing while we were searching for bulls. To our surprise, there were plenty of wrasse on the rocks. With an oddest fish category, I figured this one was a given. We never found and bulls, but Bryce did land about a half dozen more wrasse.
We had about thirty minutes left to fish, and we felt as though we had a really good shot at getting him a trophy. So we put the boat on the trailer and headed to get breakfast at his favorite place, Mc Donalds. With a full belly and a boat full of fish, we headed to the scales.
We were the first ones there, so after entering our fish, we sat back and watched the competition arrive. It was awesome to see all the smiling faces carrying buckets of fish. Nothing special, catfish, pinfish, croakers, etc., but to those kids, they might as well have been dragging a 1,000 lb blue marlin to the scales. They couldn't have been happier. Listening to 7 year olds fishing lies made it all the better! This was the first time they have put on a real tournament for kids, and I hope it continues. I have worked on boats my whole life, catching anything from blue marlin to mullet, and I have to say, this was the most fun I have ever had on a boat!
A king mackerel took longest, a different king mackerel took heaviest, Bryce took master angler, and our wrasse got beat by an alligator gar. How, I'll never know. Everyone knows what an alligator gar is, the tournament director didn't even know what kind of fish ours was, I had to tell him, then look it up to prove it! Oh well, maybe they were just trying to be fair and spread out trophies. We still placed first in what we set out to do, and that was more than enough for us. It'll be a day either of us will never forget, and you can't put a price on that!!!