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Children gang up on fish for Pioneer Days

The Tom Adams Fish­ing Pier, at 10:30 a.m. Sun­day, crowded with chil­dren learn­ing to fish dur­ing the Pio­neer Days — Michael O’Donnell Memo­r­ial Fish-a-thon.

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. – The Tom Adams Fish­ing Pier was packed, and Cathy Red­mond was sur­prised and pleased.

Oh my God,” she said. “Can you not believe it?”

More than 80 chil­dren par­tic­i­pated Sun­day in the first Michael O’Donnell Memo­r­ial Fish-A-Thon. Red­mond and her hus­band orga­nized the free tour­na­ment in honor of their late son, whose pri­mary pas­sion in life was fishing.

Red­mond hadn’t expected so many families.

There was 50 that I pre­reg­is­tered and I didn’t think I would get that,” she said. “That’s all I pre­pared for. Only 30 pre­reg­is­tered for the t-shirts, so that’s all I ordered. This is amaz­ing, what did they say, 83 kids or so? And all the par­ents out there.”

Talin Angelo, 4, shows off the fish he caught Sun­day, his first time fish­ing. At right is his “wife,“Valen Straw, 3. The pair are best friends.

The fish were bit­ing, too. Chance Barker, 10, caught a floun­der pretty early; at 9:25 a.m., Delaney Cleve­land, 7, hauled in the first of sev­eral stingrays. Other fish to get the catch-and-release treat­ment included pin­fish, red snap­per, lizard fish, bon­net­head shark, grunt, remora and blowfish.

When it was over, Delaney’s stingray was impor­tant: at 10-pounds, 12-ounces it got her a tro­phy for the heav­i­est fish.

Con­nor Mil­liken, 5, won a tro­phy for the longest fish, a 26-inch bon­net­head shark; Angela Cham­bers, 12, got the short­est fish, a 4-inch grunt. The ugli­est fish was a 5-inch blow­fish caught by Kee­gan Roerder, 6, and Adam Bal­lan­tyne, 11, got his tro­phy for catch­ing the most unusual fish, a 6-ounce remora.

Kyle Rod­dick, 11, left, gets advice and guid­ance from Bob Hop­per, one of many vol­un­teer teach­ers at the fish-a-thon. “How can you not have fun watch­ing a kid catch a fish?” Hop­per asked. “They’re the future.”

Red­mond felt even hap­pier about the morn­ing when she got home and found an email from Scott Henry, the father of two of the par­tic­i­pants, chil­dren who just started at Engle­wood Ele­men­tary School.

Henry remem­bers when his own father took him to the pier in the 70s for the Pio­neer Days Fish-A-Thon.

It was awe­some,” he wrote. “It was so dif­fer­ent since the last time I went there about 30 years ago. Great fam­ily envi­ron­ment. Again…great job. Your son would have been proud.”

To read about Michael O’Donnell, go to http://www.englewoodedge.com/2010/07/01/well-loved-odonnell-loved-fishing-hunting/

Video by Richard Fresh­wa­ter, Raquel Spencer, Tami Patzer of Total Audi­ence Mar­ket Immer­sion TAMI for Engle­wood Edge.

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