120 Keys Kids, all 10 years old or younger, participated in the 21st Annual Keys Kids Fishing Derby on September 30th.
Junior anglers pay no fee to participate in this event. They may fish in one of three different divisions, Offshore, Shoreline or Backcountry and awards are given for three different age groups in each of these divisions. Hosted by the Lorelei, ditty bags packed full of fishing goodies from many local businesses and other donors, including a fishing rod for each angler from Fish Florida, were handed out to all kids who fished. Lines were in at 9AM and the weigh scales closed at 1PM.
The Grand Champion Bryce Veath, 7years old, weighed in the largest fish of the tournament, a 6.7 pound Jack caught in the backcountry. Bryce took home a framed Pasta Pantaleo Print, a tackle box from World Wide Sportsman, a buff from Flying Fisherman, along with a tournament trophy, award certificate, brand new fishing rod, as well as other prizes, and a story to tell for years to come. Most Outstanding Catch award went to Lyla Rohr with an estimated 4 pound 21” Bonefish. Lyla released a total of 3 bonefish to win a pile of prizes. Over half of the anglers registered for the shoreline division including 4 year old Preston Walker. Preston caught a one pound snapper right at the docks of the Lorelei to win first place in his division. The fish was released. The largest fish in the shoreline 5-7 year olds was Delani Dean’s 1.2 pound Snapper. Alyssa Bonochea, age 9, released a 1.0 pound snapper to win first place in her age group. Offshore winners were Eva McCadie age 4 with a 1.7 pound mackeral, Cooper Slonin age 7 also with a 1.7 pound Mackeral and Caleb Bokor age 9 with a 5.4 pound Tuna. The largest fish in the backcountry division would go to 4 year old Julian Robertson with a 3.5 Jack. Camden Goodwin would win the 5-7 year olds division with a 2.3 Jack. Camden is 5 and Natalie Goodwin age 9 would win the 8-10 year old division with a 2.5 pound Jack.
“Tournament founder Kathy Lewis was with us in spirit,” stated tournament director Dianne Harbaugh, “I miss her tremendously. The Keys Kids Derby’s main purpose is to educate young anglers. We have tackle available here at the Lorelei for kids that would normally not have a chance to go fishing. This is the best day of the year, just watching these kids have fun catching and releasing fish. There are so many kids that get to catch their first fish! Without the financial help from Islamorada Fishing and Conservation Trust, the Islamorada Charter Boat Association, Jim and Mary Ann Bokor, Dr. Travis Bennett, an amazing anonymous donation, and other local supporters we could not have made this such a great event.”
A huge thank you goes to the Lorelei for chumming the waters with chum supplied by Tackle Center of Islamorada for our junior anglers. Mangrove Mike’s supplied us all with donuts and coffee to get the day started. World Wide Sportsman donated tackle boxes for all the 1st place winners. David and Bobbi Wirth gave custom painted hats for the anglers. Flying Fisherman donated buffs and Pasta Pantaleo backed, bagged and supplied prints for all the winners. MJ Hudson took all the wonderful pictures. A casting contest was held on the beach where anglers won a multitude of prizes. Coral Shores Cheerleaders raised money with the hot dogs donated by the Lorelei and stayed to cheer on each angler who won a trophy. A special thank-you goes out to the local captains who came by to help the kids and all the volunteers helped bait hooks, keep score, check in anglers, hand out awards and make the day go perfectly! We would like to thank all those who helped to make this event the success it was. We can’t wait until the last Sunday of September next year!