LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The 10-pound bass caught in February at a youth fishing tournament was the largest ever caught at a Lakewood Ranch tourney, but the thing tournament organizers may be remembered for may be the monofilament recycling bins that will soon be installed near lake parking lots, thanks to the Lakewood Ranch Anglers Club.
For the record, it was Miles Curley who caught a 10-pound, 27-inch bass on his first cast of the day to win the 9-11 age division. That was the biggest fish ever recorded in the event, which is catch-and-release.
Questin Gudgel and Gavin Wilson also placed in that age division. Grace Kelley took first for ages 5-8, while Brody Leiberick took second and Lucia De Victor won third in that age divison. Zach Nees and Tyler Breitenstein tied in the over 12 category.
Thursday, Community Development District 1 supervisors, serving Summerfield and Riverwalk, approved installation of the monofilament bins.
"We have developed a really good relationship with the Angler's Club with all the issues involving water quality, lake maintenance and what have you," said Ryan Heise, director of operations for Lakewood Ranch. "They presented a project to me that involves placing canisters for fisherman to put their used fishing line into. You'll see them on piers and docks and the county facilities as well. The cost is minimal and it's something our maintenance staff can facilitate rather easily. We plan to put them at the lakes that have parking facilities."
Summerfield, Trophy and Otter lakes, all of which receive overflow runoff from the Braden River, will get the recycling bins. According to Mote Marine, discarded fishing line kills hundreds of fish, birds and even land animals every year. When wildlife become entangled in or ingest monofilament, they can lose flippers, tails and wings, leading to drowning, starvation and death.
Lad Slabak of Country Club East, who chaired the youth fishing tournament in February, does a lot of fishing around the lakes.
"He's found so much line there and lures and it's very detrimental to the wildlife. He started collecting it and we brought it to the pond committee and they couldn't do much," said Anglers Club president Jeanette Wirz of Greenbrook. Then Larry Naddeo of Greenbrook, club vice president, brought the issue to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
"It's not very biodegradable. It takes years and years and years," Slabak said. "For some reason, not our club, but a lot of anglers will just leave when they get a snarl. They'll just cut it off and leave it. It becomes very important. I've seen turtles caught up in it, herons caught up in it."
The Anglers Club got together, did some research and worked to get Lakewood Ranch supervisors on board. In addition, they brought Ken Kisida, a Mote Marine volunteer, to the youth fishing tournament to teach how to dispose of hooks and lines correctly.
"We figured somebody had to do it," Wirz said.
The 150 participants in the youth tournament made it the largest ever, with rods and reels donated with funds from the Fish Florida license tags. The Saturday before the tournament, which took place Feb. 23 at Summerfield Lake, children were offered fishing lessons to be ready for the contest.
Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7027, or tweet @DeeGrahamBH.