Camp Pendleton Kid’s Fishing Derby

Military families all over the country are enjoying rods and reels donated by Zebco, the Sierra Club Water Sentinels, the National Military Fish and Wildlife Association, and the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing Campaign.  Recently, 171 young anglers participated in the Kid’s Fishing Derby at Lake O’Neill on Camp Pendleton, the Marine Corps Base Camp in Southern California.

10 year old Nathan Wardinsky landed the largest bass of the event with a two-pound, three-ounce whopper.  Trinity Flemming (age 7) claimed “Most Fish Caught” honors with ten, while Brandon Bolanos (age 7) brought in a nine ounce channel catfish to win that category.

Congratulations to all of the anglers who, without boats and three days of practice like the Bassmaster Elite tournaments, managed to catch and release 66 fish during the derby.  From the photos, it looks like a great time was had by all 250 military family members and friends.

Another catch is worthy of recognition.  Among the photos from this event is a young girl, beaming with her catch of an old Pepsi can.  Have you ever tried to land a can?  They are TOUGH! Talk about your finesse bite!  And she caught it on a single hook jig; most can anglers have to use double-treble hooks.  Her trophy looks like one of the old steel models.  A wily old-timer who had seen its share of lures bounce by before finally being fooled into taking her jig, cleverly tipped with a massive night crawler. Bassmaster Elite Pro Casey Ashley shared that he has caught cans and that “they can fool you, right up to the boat.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am disappointed that someone littered, but one of the great things about fishing is that you never know what you are going to catch. It delivers smiles, memories, and good times, even if only battling the elusive old can.

For more information on this wonderful program for military families, contact Tim Guilfoile, Deputy Director of the Sierra Club Water Sentinels.

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Andy Whitcomb

Andy Whitcomb

Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.