LAKEWOOD RANCH — Eight-year-old Kyle Benninghove started fishing when he was 4 years old and hasn’t stopped since.
On Saturday, Feb. 23, Kyle will once again compete in hopes of winning the seventh annual Youth Fishing Tournament at Summerfield Park, in Lakewood Ranch.
“I’ve got some fishing skills,” says Kyle, who will be putting his skills to the test in an effort to win first place in his age bracket.
Lakewood Ranch Community Activities Co. and the Lakewood Ranch Anglers Club will host the tournament, which is open to anglers ages 5 to 15, runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon.
In the event of rain, the event will be moved to Sunday, Feb. 24, at the same time and location.
It’s first come, first serve, with 150 spots open for participants. There is no entry fee. So far, 120 children are registered to participate.
“I won a big second-place trophy last year, but I’m trying to get first place so I can show my family I can be a good fisherman,” Kyle says.
Participants will receive a free rod and reel with a tackle kit, courtesy of Fish-Florida, which is sponsoring the tournament for the first time.
Fish-Florida is a non-profit organization that sells license plates, from which the revenue is given to the community to promote the sport of fishing.
On the day of the tournament, participants will also receive a T-shirt and a free barbecue lunch provided by the Kiwanis Club of Lakewood Ranch. Parents may purchase lunch for $3.
The tournament is structured for catch and release, with volunteers from the Anglers Club present to provide guidance and assistance to participants. These volunteers are residents in Lakewood Ranch who enjoy fishing and want to promote the sport and their passion for fishing.
When a child catches a fish, a volunteer will measure the fish and record the size on a score sheet during the event.
At noon, awards will be presented to the winners of each age group with the best record, with trophies sponsored by the Freedom Boat Club.
“The great volunteers and sponsors who donate equipment and time to this tournament is what makes this event so great,” said Lori Basillone, director of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities Co., which is helping to organize the tournament. “The Lakewood Ranch community wants to emphasize that just because someone may not have the rods required for fishing, it doesn’t mean they should not participate.”
For the first time in the tournament’s history, the Lakewood Ranch Anglers Club hosted a pre-tournament fish seminar Saturday, Feb. 16. There, attendees learned how to fish by going through four phases of the seminar: knot tying, casting, conservation of ecology and tackle.
IF YOU GO
YOUTH FISHING TOURNAMENT
When: 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 23
Where: Summerfield Lake (located at the end of Summerfield Parkway and Heron’s Nest in Lakewood Ranch)
What to bring: Fishing rod and reel, bait and any other equipment. These items will also be available free of charge, courtesy of Fish-Florida.
Cost: Cost is free (pre-registration is required)
Info: Register at lwrcac.com
Call Lori Basilone, 907-0202