A total of 129 anglers ages 11 and younger vied for the top prize during the 24th Annual KeysKids Fishing Derby on Sept. 26 at the Lorelei. Eight-year-old Jude Paneiro, fishing with Brian McCadie out of Robbie’s Marina, took top honors with a 58.8-pound amberjack.

Junior anglers paid no fee to participate in the event. They fished in one of three different divisions: offshore, shoreline or backcountry. Awards were for three different age groups in each of these divisions. Ditty bags packed full of fishing goodies from many local businesses and other donors, including a fishing rod for each angler from Fish Florida, were handed out to all kids who fished. Lines were in at 9 a.m. and the weigh scales closed at 1 p.m.  

Panerio took home a framed Pasta Pantaleo print, a fishing rod from Tackle Center of Islamorada, a tournament trophy, award certificate, tackle box, as well as other prizes. Tristan Norris, age 10, caught an 11.9-pound dolphin to win the 8-11 age group in the offshore division. Eva McCadie, 5,  weighed in a 12.6-pound jack to win the 5-7 offshore age division. 

Over half of the anglers registered for the shoreline division, and most fished from the docks at the Lorelei.  Three-year-old Tommy Barber caught a 0.8-pound snapper winning on time over Landon Holly, age 4, who caught a 0.8 pound grunt followed by 3-year-old Olivia Obermann who also caught a 0.8-pound grunt. The fish were all released immediately after being weighed in.  

The largest fish caught from shore was a 1.0 pound snapper, released by 5-year-old Maddox Whiteman. Angler Dominick Whiteman, 8, weighed in and released a 0.9-pound snapper to win his division.   

The backcountry division’s largest fish would be weighed in by 3-year-old William Walsh V. The snook weighed in at 9.9 pounds. Emma Roamirez weighed a 5.5-pound jack to take top honors in the 5-7 age group, and Bryce Veath, 10, won his division with an 8.6-pound jack. 

Most Outstanding Catch awards went to Caylin Gwilliam, 10, who released two tarpon, one redfish, two snapper, three tripletail, and a lady fish. Angler Aiden Zeher, 10, released a sailfish. 

Zayla Zinkand, 4, caught a 2.4-pound jack that would have won second place in the backcountry division, but missed the weigh-in by seconds.

“Tournament founder Kathy Lewis was with us in spirit,” said tournament director Dianne Harbaugh. “The Keys Kids Derby’s main purpose is to educate young anglers about fishing. This is the best day of the year, just watching these kids have fun catching and releasing fish. Without the help from the Islamorada Fishing and Conservation Trust, the Islamorada Charter Boat Association, the Bokor family, and other local supporters, we could not have made this such a great event.” 

The tournament thanks Lorelei for chumming the waters with chum supplied by Tackle Center of Islamorada. Tackle Center also supplied all the bait for the junior anglers. World Wide Sportsman donated rods for all the first-place anglers, while Sportsman’s Adventures donated all the ditty bags. Pasta Pantaleo packed, bagged and supplied prints for all the winners. MJ Hudson took the pictures, while IGFA was on site to teach kids about conservation and how to tie knots.  

A casting contest was held on the beach where anglers won a multitude of prizes. Lorelei donated juice and donuts in the morning and supplied hot dogs and soda later in the day, handed out by the Coral Shores cheerleaders.  

Local captains came by to help the kids and volunteers helped bait hooks, keep score, check in anglers, hand out awards and make the day go perfectly. 

Eight-year-old Jude Paneiro, fishing with Brian McCadie out of Robbie’s Marina, with his 58.8-pound amberjack. Panerio took top honors in the annual Keys Kids Fishing Derby on Sept. 26. CONTRIBUTED

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