Upcoming youth fishing events are chances to learn

Chilly temperatures didn't keep youth from participating in last year's DNR Reel 'Em In fishing tournament at the Mount Pleasant Pier. Photo by Robert Wiggers/SCDNR

Parents, mark your calendars. Two wonderful opportunities to introduce your youngsters to fishing and spend some quality time with them are just around the corner.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ second annual Reel ’Em In fishing tournament will be held Saturday at the Mount Pleasant Pier. And the fifth annual James Island Elementary School Fishing Tournament will be held Oct. 10 at the school lake.

Despite bitter cold weather, 55 youth 16 and under participated in the inaugural Reel ’Em In tournament last year and almost everyone caught fish, said Robert Wiggers of DNR. He said participants caught 46 fish, including a 1.24-pound striped burrfish which won the big fish award for angler Gavin Reynolds and eight black sea bass by Carter Leonard who took the prize for most fish caught.

“This is focused on getting kids and their parents into fishing,” Wiggers said. “We have a good chance for decent weather this year. The Mount Pleasant Pier is a great venue. They are always catching something, pinfish, little black sea bass. I think about every kid catches fish during the tournament.”

Wiggers, who also heads DNR’s marine gamefish tagging program, said participants also get a glimpse of saltwater conservation ethics as they practiced catch and release.

The tournament runs from 8 a.m.-noon. Participants must be 16 or younger and accompanied by an adult. Volunteers will be on hand to help the young anglers and give fishing tips. Fishing licenses are not required. Participants are asked, but not required, to pre-register by Wednesday at www.surveymonkey.com/r/REITournament.

“That’s mainly to give us an idea of how many to expect,” Wiggers said. “We have a limited number of loaner rods and reels along with bait and tackle.”

The James Island Elementary School Fishing Tournament is hosted by the Charleston Coastal Anglers and will be held from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the school, located at 1872 South Grimball Road. The tournament is open to all elementary age students and is free.

“We have a limited amount of fishing gear and bait is provided,” said Patrick Harrington, the school’s physical education teacher. “We will have awards for first, second and third place for the largest bream and largemouth bass.”

Harrington said the Charleston Coastal Anglers also have helped with the school’s after school fishing club.

“The program has really grown this year,” Harrington said. “I have already taken more than 20 students to catch their first fish and hope to get to 100 before the year is out.”