By Mike Fletcher Kokomo Tribune
---- — With several fish already in the boat, Avery Moody passed his pole to another youngster he never met.
“I’ve caught enough, let Nick have this one,” the 8-year-old angler said after netting five fish totaling 20 pounds in the 30th annual Jim “Moose” Carden Kids Fishing Clinic’s graduation tournament.
His catch earned him a trophy and top honors for the 6- to 9-year-old age group.
“He exemplifies the true meaning of sportsmanship,” John Martino, tournament director, said after hearing Moody talk about his catch.
In all, the 245 kids caught 211 fish weighing 118 pounds, 12 ounces during the three-hour tournament at the Kokomo Reservoir Park off 500 East.
The youngsters caught a number of bluegill, several bass and catfish, a few crappie and dozens of carp using artificial and live bait. After the weigh-in, the fish were all released back into the reservoir.
Don Swope of U.S. 31 Fish & Tackle supplied red wigglers and bee moths for those who preferred live bait.
Summer Hancock, with boat captain Mark Gibson, took home the trophy in the 10-12 age group by landing two fish weighing 6 pounds, 9 ounces. Summer also earned a $20 bill from Hoosier Open, which supplied the weigh-in equipment, for catching the biggest fish — a 6-pound, 5-ounce carp.
“I would like to thank my boat captain,” the young girl said of her day on the water.
Nicholas Fox, who teamed up with Moody in Jim Baker’s boat, landed three fish tipping the scales at 7 pounds, 2 ounces, earning her top honors in the 13-to-15 age group.
In his first ever tournament, 8-year-old Kaden Trusty landed a 2-pound largemouth bass on an artificial lure to his dad’s surprise.
“I’m pumped,” his dad, Zachary Trusty, said. “I can’t believe he caught one that big. I don’t think I ever caught one that big.
“We go camping twice a year that’s about all the fishing we do,” he said.
“We tried to get in last year, but didn’t make it. I heard this was a killer program.”
Trusty said the event was worth the wait and thanked the boat captain for helping Kaden.
“He didn’t have his pole set up and the boat captain set it up for him in the boat.”
Saturday’s tournament was a culmination of the program, which included classes spread over two weeks. The kids learned in the classes how to cast, learned how to use artificial and live bait and learned how to clean a fish.
“No doubt if Moose was here he would be especially proud of every one of you,” Martino said prior to the start.
The kids with poles in their hands and smiles on their faces hit the water just before 8 a.m.
“Let’s go fishing,” Martino yelled signifying the start of the tournament.
Prior to the tournament, Martino thanked all the volunteers and instructors.
“The boat captains are the heart and soul of this program.”
Martino also recognized one captain, Jerry Gamblin Sr., for his dedication to the clinic.
“Jerry moved to Florida and said he would come back every year to be a captain. I took that with a grain of salt,” Martino said. “But he’s been back every year. He drove 1,200 miles one way the last 12 to 13 years to be a captain.”
Martino also paid tribute to Jim Ault, a veteran and former volunteer and boat captain, who recently passed away.
“It’s a great day,” Peggy Ault, Jim’s wife, said prior to the tournament.
“Thank the Lord we are here [Saturday] to enjoy the great outdoors,” she said. “I hope it will continue for 30 more years.”
Former Mayor Jim Trobaugh, whose grandkids have participated in the clinic for many years, said its more than just fishing.
“It teaches them life skills they will be able to use the rest of their lives,” Trobaugh said.
“John [Martino] does a great job. This is the first year my grandkids haven’t participated. They’re playing in a softball tournament in Illinois.”
Despite having recent back surgery, boat captain Bobby Childress said he wouldn’t miss it for anything.
“I’ve been a captain for 15 to 17 years,” he said. “I enjoy doing this. It’s well worth it seeing the kids faces. It’s all about the kids.”