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MORE KIDS, MORE FISH MAKE FOR A GOOD TOURNEY

July 4, 2002 – Daniel Turbe scurried up the rocks along the Crown Bay dock, fishing pole in hand and a big smile on his face. "See what I caught? There's a big one in there," the 10-year-old said. Out since the crack of dawn, braving both hot sun and cool rain, Daniel was one of more than 175 junior anglers competing Wednesday in the July Open Tournament for kids.
"This is an event we look forward to each year," Shelley Blythe said as her son Chris, 13, finished weighing in his catch at the weigh station set up at the tournament headquarters at Offshore Marine in Sub Base.
"There's definitely more kids and more fish this year," Ruth Gomez, tournament weigh master, said.
According to Gomez, a marine professional with the Planning and Natural Resources Department's Fish and Wildlife Division, the most popular types of fish caught during the Fourth of July tournament were squirrelfish, yellowtail, hamlet and grunt.
As a conservation lesson, kids were given large white plastic buckets for their catch. Once the live fish were weighed in — with Gomez exercising dexterity in keeping them from flopping off the scale — the kids ran with their bucket full of catch back to the shoreline and returned the fish to the sea.
By just after the noon cutoff for weighing, the Offshore Marine deck was filled with kids and the Fourth of July party was on. Face painting, clowns, live music and lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon and ice cream kept the young folks occupied while the scores were being tabulated. Parents seemed to be having as much fun as their youngsters.
"This year we have more parents, and that's great to see — whole families coming out to fish," said Harry Clinton, executive director of the Virgin Islands Gamefishing Club, which hosted the free event, and has done so since 1996.
"Just the look on a kid's face when they catch something is pretty special," Clinton said. "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 thousand-pound blue marlin."
Winners
Up to 6 years of age
Total weight: 1 – Cisco Conner, 6.476 pounds; 2 – Rocchina Arnold, 5.61 pounds; 3 – Shawn Evans, 3.46 pounds
Largest fish: Chelsea Aubain, 0.96 pounds
7 to 12 years of age
Total weight: 1 – Mickeal Blanchard, 23.484 pounds; 2 – Clyde Tapp, 11.86 pounds; 3 – Daniel Turbe, 8.802 pounds
Largest fish: Luke Davis, 0.94 pounds
13 to 15 years of age
Total weight: 1 – Richie Welsh, 11.868 pounds; 2 – Daniel Magras, 6.86 pounds; 3 – Dana Joseph Jr., 0.96 pounds
Largest fish: Richie Welsh, 11.31 pounds

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