Taylor Kucia had just weighed his redfish and trout on the third day of the 75th annual Texas International Fishing Tournament.
Kucia, 16, had come from McAllen to partici-pate in the event which included 1,245 anglers both children and adults. The junior division, which had about 300 entries, was divided into three categories, including children ages 7 and under, and 8 to 12-year-olds. Kucia had competed in the 13 to 16-year-old category.
The redfish weighed in at 4.65 pounds and was 23 and 7/8 inches, and the trout at 16 and 7/8 inches long.
“I got three reds and three trout in the morning, first hour,” he said Satur-day at Southpoint Marina. The other four had been released.
Suddenly a voice called out.
“Is this the mighty angler Taylor Kucia?” said a young man in a bright orange T-shirt that showed he was a volunteer.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” said Clayton Neu-haus, 17. “I have been waiting for this for a long time.”
Clayton, of Weslaco, was joking around with his friend Taylor who offered to give him his autograph. However, he was quite serious about helping the younger children bring in their fish to be weighed and measured. He and the scores of other volunteers were on hand to help any way they could.
“I’m carrying fish around,” he said. “The kids are really excited.”
The air was warm and a festive energy seemed to mingle with the salty breeze. Excited laughter and the smell of sunscreen brightened the event.
Volunteers in orange shirts seemed to be every-where, enjoying every-one’s company and jumping in to carry fish for anglers pulling up in their boats. It was mid-afternoon and weighing would last until 8 p.m. However, anglers were already coming in with impressive catches from distant places around the Laguna Madre, places they seemed to know very well.
Travis M. Whitehead