Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Youth Fishing Derby Teems with Rods, Reels and Smiles; 13th Annual Event Growing Steadily

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Youth Fishing Derby Teems with Rods, Reels and Smiles; 13th Annual Event Growing Steadily

Article excerpt

Byline: Teresa Stepzinski, Times-Union staff writer

ST. SIMONS ISLAND -- Smiles were the big catch of the day as Southeast Georgia children reeled in oyster toadfish, whiting, bluefish and croakers yesterday during the 13th annual Golden Isles Parent/Child Fishing Derby on the MacKay River.

Youngsters age 5 to 12 from as far away as Vidalia and Savannah cast their lines in the family oriented community event organized by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

"This is all about the joy of fishing," said John Pafford, program supervisor for marine recreational fisheries. "The important thing is for the kids and their families to have fun whether they catch anything or not."

The derby also is an opportunity to introduce children to fishing.

"We started this to provide an opportunity for kids and families who don't usually get a chance to go fishing, to come out and fish and have fun," Pafford said.

Pafford helped launch the derby in 1990. It has grown steadily in participants and popularity over the years, he said.

"We had about 90 kids when we first started up and we prepared for 225 this year," Pafford said. "We're limited only by the size of the pier, otherwise we could have a thousand kids out here."

Morgan Williams, 9, and her favorite fishing partner, her father, Tony Williams, arrived early so they could get a good spot on the fishing pier.

The secret to fishing success, said Morgan, who caught seven toadfish and one croaker during the derby, is knowing where and when to cast your line.

"The biggest thing is getting the right spot. It all depends on the current and if you see fish jump. If you get it right and catch fish, then you call it the honey hole," said Morgan, who has been fishing since she was 5.

Tony Williams said he and his daughter frequently fish together off the dock at the family's Dover Bluff home in Camden County.

"She picked it up fast. She baits her own hook. …

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