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SEAL BEACH | Community News Focus

Kids Reel In Small Fry, Keepers

August 24, 1996|CATHY WERBLIN

Garrett Myers spent hours dangling his fishing pole off the Seal Beach Pier Friday morning, but the 5-year-old caught only a splinter in his finger.

A few steps away, novice angler Ona Fongsurdenas had her borrowed pole in the water no more than a minute when she reeled in a 1-pound halibut.

"She had her pole in there only a second," said Ona's twin sister, Olanda. "She thinks it was luck."

Fongsurdenas' halibut was thrown back into the water, though, along with hundreds of other fish reeled in during the city's fifth annual Youth Fishing Derby.

Halibut must be 22 inches long, sea bass 28 inches and spotted sand bass 12 inches to be kept, according to state law.

The largest fish of the day was caught by David Minjarez, who hooked a 9 1/2-pound shovelnose guitarfish.

"I didn't expect to have any luck," said the 14-year-old Bell Gardens youth, who was one of the first to arrive for the 6 a.m. competition. Minjarez said he fished for about two hours before pulling out the flat, brownish fish.

Brian Holmes, a 14-year-old Lakewood resident, made the day's most unusual catch: a 4-ounce spotted sand bass. Holmes, who won the tournament last year with a 1 1/2-pound halibut, said sand bass are typically caught in bays rather than the ocean.

Holmes said he fishes off the Seal Beach pier at least once a week during the summer. His strategy, he said, is to "fish near the pilings where no one else goes."

The fishing derby, sponsored by the Seal Beach Cities Rotary Club and the city's recreation department, attracted about 250 youngsters from Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Participants were required to bring their own poles to the free event. Bait was supplied by Seal Beach Sport Fishing.

Paul Gregory, a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, saw it as a good sign that so many small fish were caught and returned during the derby.

"It means the population is healthy," he said.

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