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Story 2008 Junior Tournament

Page history last edited by Jerome Moisand 4 years ago

St Lawrence Junior Tournament 2008




August 15th and 16th, 2008


Waddington, NYS


Fishing with many kids

See Also

Picasa album day 1

Picasa album day 2





After the excitement from last year, my two sons Alexis and Valentin were registered to the 2008 edition of the junior tournament a few weeks after the end of the 2007 edition. Now time had come to go back and try to break those Personal Bests.


We had a quick warm-up on the border of the Charles River; fish were quite cooperative for Alexis and my younger son Felix, as well as for Adam, a Boston University student (and avid angler) we met on the bank. The session didn’t last long though, because of one of those storms which pestered our entire summer. Valentin had a practice session a few days later, so everybody was ready for the St Lawrence.



Finally, this is D-day. We had to drive on Thursday because of an unexpected business trip I couldn’t escape from, so no pre-fishing or carp school this year, but we made it in time for the kids to enjoy the dancing. A girl immediately kind of jumped on Valentin, stating she remembered him from last year, that he was really cute, asking to get his cell phone number “for my friend” (yeah, right), so I knew it was time to me to make myself scarce, and go tie some rigs…


Friday: weeds, weeds, weeds everywhere


6AM, wake up everybody. Yawn. Two zombies and a not-so-awake dad made their way to Ed Sheffield’s shop, where Mike Dragone was waiting for us. Mike was kind enough to take care of Alexis as usual, including him in a team with Val Grimley’s two sons, and of course *the* expert, Gaeton Dragone himself. Ed and myself had sponsored a team with three local kids, plus Valentin, and we had arranged for Vinny to be Val’s mentor since I was marshaling elsewhere. So everybody was on their way, and I made it to Little Sucker Brook where I was assigned to a group of kids sponsored by the Salvation Army.


The first couple of hours are always really busy, getting to know each other, prebaiting a bit more, explaining the basics, re-tying rigs with proper sharp hooks, helping to cast, patiently repeating to not recast every few minutes (this one takes a looong time to sink in!), etc.


We were hopeful since we saw a few fish jump early in the morning, but things started slow, oh so slow. To make things more complicated, we had a really thick weed bed in front of us, and the first fish escaped because of it, a sign of things to come. Finally, George (from a family of three) had a run, got stuck in the weeds, and I could have sworn that the fish was lost while we dragged a ton of weeds, but no, it was still there! Another fish was landed by a kid downstream, another low teen.



Then I received a phone call, and a very excited Valentin gave me amazing news, he landed a 29 pounder from Ogdensburg (at the lighthouse). Fishing was also plagued by weeds out there, but thanks to Vinny’s mentoring, he played it right and landed this really nice fish. At this point in time, this was the biggest fish caught in the tournament and Valentin was convinced he was on the money, ready to stop school and not have to work his entire life! Yeah, well, a girl caught a nice 32 pounder a bit later, so much for Val’s dreams, but still this was a terrific new Personal Best for him. Here he is, pics courtesy of Vinny.



Back to Sucker Brook, where Lizzie finally got her turn to play a fish, but alas, it went straight to the weeds. She did everything right, dragging it slowly under Larry’s directions, but those weeds were just too thick. Bummer. Downstream, a certain Terry Fishlock had quite a setup for a young boy named Carl.


Attached Image


Nothing moved for quite some time, except one run where Lizzie’s friend (Melissa) was fifty yards from her rod and got a run out of the blue. After quite a sprint, we reached the rod (luckily with a big reel), and… the usual… the fish got stuck in the weeds, she tried real hard to get it out, almost succeeded, all that to see it lose the hook and swim away. Another bummer.


At the end of five fairly long hours, the lunch break was welcome. I took the opportunity to spod sweet feed and flavored maize on each and every swim, which took me the best of the two hours, then quickly gulped a sandwich and the crowd of young anglers was back. Terry had also stayed for some spodding, and his magic ended up producing two fish during the afternoon for young Carl who was very excited.



Nothing moved for a while, we actually had to stop fishing for an hour because of a storm with lightning hitting hard. I was quite hopeful this would trigger fish into biting much more actively, but this didn’t seem to do it. A couple of more fish did bite, and were lost again, aarg.


It was getting close to 6PM when we finally got more excitement. It started by a run downstream, one of the first spots in the trees, and the girl had succeeded to bring the fish close to shore, but not close enough to land it and she couldn’t drag it any further. I waded to see what was happening, and the line was caught in another fishing line which was itself pretty stuck in the weeds. I cut the offending line, Larry netted the fish and this was the biggest one of the day for this section, a little over 20 pounds.



I dragged yards and yards and yards of the other line out of the water, weeds opposing quite some resistance. Another fish being played nearby, I cut the line I had extracted and just loosely wrapped up the part which was still in the water to a bank stick, and went to see what was happening. This was yet another fish which ended up getting lost, and the young angler was Valentin’s enchantress from last night! He was probably bad luck, because she lost another fish later on, and lost two more the day after!


I came back to the first spot, and a bewildered dad told me that the line suddenly started to move, dragged the bank stick, unraveled, and disappeared in the water. What a dope, I had absolutely not realized there was a fish at the end of this line!


Another fish was landed in the meantime by a young kid who had the most basic reel you could think of. One more fish was lost in the weeds by a cute girl called Brianna (George’s sister) and another one by her second brother Mike. Tough. The sunset was beautiful, but our mood wasn’t that bright at the end of the day, not enough fish, too many of them lost and no biggie. Alexis, Gate and Mike didn’t get anything at their own swim, Valentin didn’t get a second chance either (one of his team mates did land a 18 lber), fishing was slow everywhere. Still, most of the kids at Sucker Brook did get a fish or got a fair chance to land one, and we had one more day to improve the score.



While most people were wrapping up, just a few minutes before the end of the session, Devin got a run. Now Devin is this “special needs” kid who got a single run just two minutes before the end of the tourney last year, played an obviously big fish for a while, but mono didn’t resist friction against a rock. He was devastated, and so were we, he was just so eager to catch something, anything. And here we were, same scenario (last minute run) and… same outcome (fish lost). Terry and myself looked at each other in dismay. We always focus on the success stories while recounting the junior tournament, but there is also a fair share of sad ones. Devin took the loss more philosophically this time, and we still had one day to go. Never lose hope! 


Saturday: rocks, rocks, rocks everywhere


A quick stop at the Waddington's civic center to get the pegs numbers from the Ellen and Kathy (two of the hard working organizers of the event, many kudos to them), and Alexis and Valentin left with their respective teams. This time, the Salvation Army's kids were located at River Road, the west part of it. This area is normally closed to fishing since it’s private, but the owner is kind enough to open it for fishing tournaments. The shore is made of loose rocks, so this is pretty hard on the ankles! We were greeted by nice views of the mist over the river and on cobwebs.



I was happy to discover that Carol and her daughter Karen were marshals, two good anglers who participated to the junior tournament for two years, and came back as marshals this year, Karen having turned 18. Very nice of them to return the favor to the younger participants. A kid got a run right after 7am, and this gave the opportunity for a nice picture of Karen with the happy angler.



Aside from that, not much activity early in the morning. Devin and his mother Rose arrived a tad late, and given their respective handicaps, struggled a bit to make it to their swim. When Devin’s mom came back to her car, it was to discover that they had closed the car’s door on the rod they rented from Ed Sheffield, and broke the tip. This was really not a good start for them. So while Devin’s mom was resting in the car, I gave Devin my spare rod, and Terry set him up with one of his secret new plastic bait. Just a few minutes later, guess what happened? Yup, a solid run. With some guidance, Devin finally caught his first carp ever. Not a big fish, but this didn’t matter one bit, he was just so ecstatic! We put the fish in a sack, and went up the hill to brighten Rose’s day. She just couldn’t believe it!



Back to the shore, we let the fish breathe in the water for a few minutes, then took a few more pics before the fish was finally returned to the water. As a side note, I went to see Ed later, and he didn’t charge Rose for the broken rod, very generous of him.



Aside from this great story, nothing much happened during the morning. Just a few minutes before lunch time, Brianna got a run out of nowhere while we were all groggy from long hours of waiting time under the sun, but… the line broke on an underwater rock. Aaaaarrrrggg, not fair. Fact is Brianna and her brothers were in front of a very snaggy area, and their dad spent his day oh-so-patiently tying rig after rig since they lost quite a few in the weeds and rocks.


This time, I didn’t spod much during lunch time since we had so few runs, and I really didn’t think the bait we threw in the water in the morning had been eaten. Most participants came back, a couple didn’t (can’t blame then for giving up, the morning was really dismal), and we set up for the final few hours.


Quite frankly, I was bored out of my mind by then, it’s not fun to marshal when there is nothing happening, nothing to explain, nothing to do… So I started to walk a bit around in the other sections of River Road, quite a long stretch. It turned out that very few fish had been caught in the morning, and a discussion with the radio operators indicated that aside from a terrific 33 pounder, nothing much had been caught anywhere. Here are a few pics of various participants (and future participants in training).



I tried to contact Mike and Alexis, but couldn’t reach them. I did reach Vinny who told me that Valentin lost a fish on a ledge, and his team mates caught a couple, which was actually a good result given how slow fishing was everywhere.


After a while, I finally heard a run, and this was Devin again. Now this was really his day. The fish had taken a lot of line, but he actually played the fish very well, and only minimum guidance was required for him to bring his second carp to Karen’s net. Devin was of course absolutely elated, and a video of him excitingly kissing the fish will find its way to YouTube!



A bit later, this was Carl’s turn to get a run, play it nicely, bring it the net and kiss the precious carp straight on the lips. Under very difficult fishing conditions, Terry’s mentoring proved to make the difference, and those two kids can give him a big thank you.



In the mean time, Mike (Brianna and George’s brother) -who was turning quite red under the sun- did catch his first fish. No pic, I wasn’t there, but I was very happy for this family, they really stuck to it with great patience, and two kids out of three got their fish while poor Brianna was less lucky with her two losses. Next year, she’ll do well, I’m sure.


I was less enthused to discover that a not-so-friendly participant left early while stealing a bank stick and bite alarm I had lended to Melissa (who gave up early afternoon). Sure enough, I have no hard proof, I didn't see him do it, and I wasn’t going to make a scene at the closing ceremony, but this was a bit disappointing. I am always absolutely amazed to see how patient, eager to learn and thankful the kids are during this event. I never witnessed any incident in three years of marshaling. Oh well, there had to be a bad apple.


Upstream, it turned out that some participants did land a few carp, and here is the last catch of the day from a kid who won a prize for the total weight in his category. Same kid who caught the first fish of the morning!



I finally succeeded to reach Mike & Alexis, and well, this was really not Alexis’ year. He got a single run during the day and lost the fish in the weeds. Gate did a bit better, and succeeded to land three fish at the end of the day, which gave him a total weight prize thanks to this last minute effort. Valentin didn’t catch anything else, but his team mates landed a couple more, and we had good hopes of seeing the team fare quite well in the final ranking.


Closing ceremony


After the usual pep talk and thanks, one of the very first winners’ announcements was Valentin’s team (sponsored by Ed’s Bait and Tackle), which made it as the third team for the entire tournament. It was quite cool to see Val with a nice medal, he really doesn’t fish much, but this time, he had his moment of fame with his team (one team member missing from the pic, don’t know where she was). Many thanks to Vinny who did a great mentoring job for all the kids surrounding him.



As a side note, Jared Smythe was the grand marshal this year, and did a great job out of it. Here is a local guy who grew up to be a cool guy and a really good angler. The Specialist Tackle team took the second place, while a new team, with the oh-so-subtle name of “Hookers” (!!) won all the honors, with their dirty t-shirts clearly proving how hard they worked on it during the day.



Here are a few more pics of individual winners, including Carrie who was the happy captor of the biggest fish (33-12lb). Since the 32lber from the first day was also caught by a girl, Valentin turned out to be the boy who caught the biggest fish, but alas, no prize for that!



Finally, the total weight winner was Ian Hawkins and this lucky kid came back home with a nice money prize.



Overall, it was great to see the smiles on the faces of the kids who did catch a carp, but man, this was a slow year and fish were really small on average. I hope that some tuning will happen for next year, maybe rescheduling the tournament to mid-July or something like that.


In any case, the participation was as high as usual, and the future of carp fishing in North America is clearly being shaped by six years of St Lawrence Junior Tournaments, the amazing efforts of all organizers and helpers, and let’s hope this will continue for a long time. 

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