Twenty-four boats played host to 32 young anglers, including 10 from Face Autism, during the fifth-annual Kiddie Pole Classic on Oct. 16.
The fundraiser offers a unique twist: Only “kiddie poles” such as the classic Barbie, Mickey Mouse, or other favorite cartoon characters on a small children’s retail set are allowed. The difficulty of not only casting but also catching fish on these ultra small setups makes this tournament one of the more “fun” challenges going.
Battling stiff winds that have lingered for two weeks, Capt. Josh Prunier was able to place his father and son on schools of fish while fishing near the mouth of the Manatee River. His boat was able to land snook, trout, redfish and jacks, including the tournament winning 26.5-inch redfish on the undersized tackle.
“It was a big school of fish,” Prunier said. “We had to really get on the fish and get them fired up since the small rods made it difficult. We were using weighted bobbers to help cast further.
“The first four or five fish we had broke the line off by getting stuck in the spools. The bobbers were still being towed around by the fish that were hooked, it was pretty crazy. We were able to land about five from the school on those little reels.”
Prunier has fished in each Kiddie Pole Classic and said he enjoys the tournament as it helps benefit charity. The tournament and post-event donations pushed proceeds over $5,000. The money raised goes to Face Autism, which is based in Ellenton. Those wishing to make donations can go do so online at face-autism.org/donate.
The 19th annual Yerrid Foundation Grand Slam Fishing Tournament, also held on Oct. 16, presented anglers with a tough morning bite and better afternoon conditions. Trout and big snook seemed to be the most difficult species to target, while many boats were able to land redfish over 30-inches.
Grand Slam Results
Slam (redfish, snook trout total): 1. 87 inches, Cabernet, Captain Will Burbach; 2. 84.5 inches, Bloomin Brands 2, Captain Dennis Machado; 3. 83 inches, Bloomin Brands 1, Captain Mike Gore.
Snook: 1. 40 inches. Captain Art Paiva, angler Emory Tipton; 2. 33 inches. Captain Dave Dennison, angler Eric Littlejohn; 3. 32 inches, Captain Mike Witforth, angler Don Becker.
Redfish: 1. 36 inches, Captain Frank Diaz, angler Jon Meade; 2. 33.25 inches, Captain Phil Pegley, angler David Graham; 3. 32.5 inches, Captain Steve Brownlee, angler Chris Quarles.
Trout: 1. 21 inches, Captain Keith Benson, angler Doug Lejeune; 2. 21.25 inches, Captain Robert Little, angler Kerry Humphries; 3. 22.25 inches, angler Evelyn Milam.
Source: U.S. Naval Observatory data