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A competition encourages kids to set their sights upon the water.
Published Mar. 6, 2009|Updated Mar. 6, 2009

Fishing is more than just a favorite pastime, a sport or a survival technique. It's also a good family activity.

The 18th Annual Anclote Fishing Tournament in Holiday is directed at getting kids out to the Anclote Gulf Park fishing pier to spend time with their families and have a friendly fishing competition.

"Kids love fishing and this gives them an opportunity to come out and enjoy it with their families," Pasco Parks and Recreation representative Trish Atwater said. "I've noticed that a lot of kids come out with their grandparents. I think the event offers a good opportunity for the kids to bond with them."

Pasco Parks and Recreation receives assistance putting on the event from other organizations within the community such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who provide hot dogs and sodas for everyone who attends, and Hart One Stop Bait and Tackle, which provides all the bait for the competition.

"We've got fishing poles from Hart One Stop that we raffle off, they provide all the bait, and have given T-shirts as well," Atwater said. "The competition has always gotten a good reception from the community, but our turnout this year has been even more impressive at around 150 kids."

Hart One Stop employee Timothy McGowan attended the event Saturday and saw firsthand what it offers children and their families. Just as important, however, is what it offers Hart One Stop.

"Every kid loves to fish," McGowan said. "Obviously, this is good for us because it keeps the business in touch with the next generation of fishermen. Most importantly, the event gets the kids off the couch and out there fishing."

The diversity of fish caught in the contest varies widely. According to McGowan, there are limitations because of the location, but kids caught species such as firemouth grunt, mangrove snapper and even a 91/2-inch grouper that was the largest of the day.

Prizes are awarded for the most fish caught and the largest fish caught. The event, however, is considered by its participants to be about more than just winning.

Jessica Tucker's son, Tyler, competed in the event, but missed out on catching a fish. Despite the failed attempts, Tucker insists that the experience the event offered was still worthwhile for her son.

"I think this event is awesome," Tucker said. "We need more stuff like this that you can take your kids to and not have to fork out a bunch of money. The kids get to do what they love, and I think fishing is good for them because it teaches them patience."

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For more information on future fishing events, call Trish Atwater at (727) 834-3285.


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