The 13th-annual Angler Young Angler (AYA) Fishing Tournament had another successful year and large turnout June 20 following last year’s modified event to ensure participant safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A large crowd of family and community members gathered in Deacon Mills Park to support the young anglers participating in this year’s tournament and enjoy a barbecue provided by the Green Lake Rotary Club.

With COVID-19 restrictions removed, event director Chuck Hurley said it was exciting to have a crowd back to watch the award ceremony and to be able to do a group picture with the kids again.

“It was nice to see all the family show up and support all the teams,” he said.

Hurley noted the event was able to bring back tents for families to watch the event and a barbecue to feed the volunteers and contestants this year.

“Each year is unique here, but I thought this one was actually one of our better ones,” he said.

The tournament kept some changes implemented during last year’s modified event like launching and returning teams in waves rather than all at once.

Hurley noted this eliminated congestion when anglers returned to shore for the weigh-in.

Each year, 50 teams participate and are composed of two young anglers between the ages of 4 and 17, and an adult captain to assist the anglers catch their fish.

Each boat was allowed to catch five smallmouth bass with the team reeling in the heaviest haul being deemed the winner.

Last year’s winning team composed of captain Billy Daye and young anglers Ethan Reilly and Brett Daye took first place again this year with a total of five fish that weighed 14.78 pounds.

Each young angler on the winning boat received a champions’ trophy and a $1,500 scholarship. The adult captain received a plaque.

Additionally, awards were given out to the individual boy and girl who caught the heaviest smallmouth bass.

The year’s Girl Big Fish was awarded to Addison Poock who reeled in a 5.24 pound bass, while Wesley Loewe took home the Boy Big Fish award with his 3.9 pound bass.

Following the awards, the event’s sponsors awarded eight $1,000 scholarships to randomly drawn contestants.

Dave Norton who helped create the AYA fishing tournament said the tournament has grown to become a really positive part of the community since it started awarding scholarships to contestants.

“I think that it’s probably one of the best things this community does because it takes moms, dads and kids off the street and gets everybody to fish,” he said. “But this isn’t just catching fish, it’s about making memories.”

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