Cameron Anthony had never caught a fish before.
So when he reeled in a 14-inch long flounder Saturday morning, he was excited and others were impressed.
“It was very cool,” Cameron said. “Once I caught it, I was very proud of myself.”
Some youngsters partaking in the 20th annual DeSoto Fishing Tournament at Tarpon Pointe Marina in Bradenton had their first experience fishing and all went home after a good time with a new fishing pole.
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Cameron was among the many experiencing a first Saturday morning. A friend ran over to describe how he lured a big fish in.
“The flounder was all the way over there,” Cameron said as he pointed far out in the Manatee River.
Members of the DeSoto crewe were all along the sea wall helping youngsters bait hooks and cast nets.
Event co-Chairman Scott Toedman said the crewe was pleased with the tournament turnout.
“It’s all about the kids,” he said.
Jim Frost, who chaired the kids portion of the tournament, said it is an important event because so many youngsters never had the opportunity to fish before.
Frost pointed over to Cameron, referring to the flounder he caught as he said: “He’ll never forget that, his first fish. You don’t forget that.”
The DeSoto crewe also sprung a big surprise.
“Every body today will leave with a fishing pole, “ Frost said.
Toedman said the exciting part was they waited until the conclusion of the tournament to tell everyone they could take their poles home.
Kalai Coleman, 2, looked polished in holding his own rod, winding his reel and even giving some slack to line as his parents stood by making sure he didn’t hook anyone.
His father, John Coleman, said Kalai fished for the first time when they visited a co-worker’s home who lives on the water.
“He did it one time and now he is obsessed with it,” Coleman said. “So now, every time he goes over there, that’s all he wants to do.”
When Kalai pulled his hook out of the water accidentally and onto dry land, dad jumped to help him.
“We had one flounder hooked three times but couldn’t reel it in,” Kalai’s mother, Tobie Daniels, said as she looked at her son in amazement.
Adults watching the boy said they were impressed in how he maneuvered his fishing pole at such a young age.
Other youngsters drew less attention. Seven-year-old Grace Kotter sat peacefully by herself in the shade of a palm tree, sunglasses on her face and fishing pole in hand.
“I haven’t caught anything yet,” Grace said.
Grace said she usually enjoys fishing with her parents and her 11-year-old twin brother and sister.
“Usually we don’t catch anything though but we’ll usually go out and eat some then,” Grace.