Tyler Tambor may have weighed-in the heaviest fish in the inaugural Capt. Bob Lewis Kids Fishing Classic on Saturday in Coconut Grove, but the 10-year-old from Miami Beach was only one of many winners.
While Tyler picked up a trophy for a 44.4-pound kingfish, every one of the 150 contestants received a medal for competing, and almost that many took home some kind of prize.
“Greatest thing in the world,” said captain Jimmy Lewis, son of the tournament’s namesake who died in 1997. “My dad is smiling all the way down the line.”
The inaugural “Bob Lewis” — the tournament’s short-hand name — was a catch-and-release billfish contest launched in 1994 to honor the pioneering sport fisherman who developed the fishing kite, now a staple at all South Florida sailfish tournaments. The tournament awarded substantial cash prizes, but also raised money to conduct free kids’ fishing clinics, which were a big hit, drawing as many as 300 youngsters. Participation in the billfish challenge waned in recent years, so this year organizers decided to convert it to a youth-only event at Shake-A-Leg headquarters on Biscayne Bay.
“Our motto is to keep kids into fishing and make them stewards of the environment,” tournament director Jose Fonseca said. “We decided to keep all the money and efforts to the kids.”
The young anglers seemed to be very much into fishing.
Chris Dones, 10, of Miami weighed a 28.4-pound kingfish while brother Nick, 11, got a 23.3-pounder. They fished with their dad Angel on Priceless, skippered by captain Jorge Sanchez.
“They love to fish,” Angel Dones said of his two sons. “A great cause and time to spend with the boys out there.”
Nine-year-old Antonio Rangel of Miami was very proud of his 9.2-pound triggerfish, which he caught on the party boat Reward with captain Wayne Conn.
“I don’t get to fish that much because I’m really busy,” he explained, citing Cub Scouts, football and hanging out with his friends as pastimes that cause time conflicts.
For Tyler Tambor, whose dad Matt is captain of the sportfishing yacht Owl’s Nest, his big king is not the largest of his fishing career. He also released two sailfish Saturday and said he once caught a huge Cubera snapper. But Tyler conceded the king gave him a tussle.
“It felt like the rod was gonna break,” he said.
He gallantly stepped aside and let his fishing partner, 5-year-old Emma Lindner catch a 15-pound kingfish and some bonitos.
“I kept switching rods with her so we could take turns,” Tyler explained.
At least one REALLY young angler entered the contest. Christopher David, aged 20 months, caught a triggerfish and a snapper on the charterboat L & H, owned and skippered by his dad, captain Jimmy David. Christopher’s sister Laurel, 10, and brother James, 14, released two sailfish and five kings, along with numerous other fish. Christopher happily posed for photos at the scales, bestowing a kiss on one of the kings while being held in Laurel’s arms.
Besides medals and trophies, anglers and their parents enjoyed a post-fishing barbecue before the awards ceremony.