It’s been 19 years that Charles Pennycuff has been at Fisherman’s Choice annual youth fishing tournament, the second weekend in June, and last Saturday was no different for the man who first started it.
Same is true for Rita Seger, who’s been volunteering for that long. From back when it was behind the bait-and-tackle shop, before it moved to the Eastpoint pavilion.
Now you’re seeing that the little barefoot kids who use to run up with their pinfish, and their black drum, and all the rest, are now minding children of their own.
And there’s more visitors coming in from elsewhere, like the family of Jan and Rob Sawyer, from Memphis, Tennessee, who brought along their seventh grade son Nolan, and cousin Easton Nye, and friend J.D. Lunsford.
They’re staying at Coastline RV Park, and they were able to secure a spot there in large part based on a close friendship with the Creamers, because it’s packed this time of year.
The Memphis quintet went fishing beginning in the early morning. “We make them do it the hard way,” said Jan. “We make them do it from the shore.”
The crew were “very strategic,” in mom’s opinion, up early, starting at Journey’s on St. George Island, then fishing off the docks at the Mill Pond, and lastly off U.S. 98 near Lynn’s Oysters. “The kids have figured out the big drums like to come by there,” she said.
As it turned out Nolan Sawyer finished third in sailcat, and Lunsford was fifth in drum.
Organizer Rex Pennycuff, who oversaw the judges’ panel, and his sister, Natasha, who took pictures of all the grinning kids with their fish, and the tackle boxes and poles they won, many of them wearing t-shirts they also got for taking part, the back of the shirts filled with a list of the many businesses that have long sponsored this enormous tournament, said about 240 kids signed up, but many, especially the ones who didn’t land a whopper, didn’t show up for prizes, or to eat lunch.
“Some of them get back and don’t care,” he said.
He said among the fishers this year were three of the summer All-Star teams, which meant 45 kids took part, because of baseball.