A record-breaking number of young fishers caught a record-breaking number of fish this past Saturday, April 8, at the Department of Agriculture’s Aquatic & Wildlife, Forestry Divisions, and University of Guam (UOG) Sea Grant Kids’ Freshwater Fishing Derby at Masso Reservoir.
Out of the derby’s 41 competitors, 21 youth caught 87 fish and 2 shrimp. The top 14 contestants win prizes based on the total combined lengths of fish caught.
This year’s contest was by far the most competitive, given participation that was up by at least 25% over previous years. The catch doubled past freshwater derbies.
Event collaborators strove to teach kids the joys of fishing and provide education on Guam’s freshwater habitats. Masso is part of the Asan-Piti watershed and a vital environment for Guam native animal and plant species.
Activities Beyond Fishing
For three hours starting at 9 a.m., children as young as four tried capturing tilapia and native freshwater fish like umatang (flagtail) and asuli (freshwater eel).
But the 70+ participants in attendance could also go on guided nature walks to learn about native and invasive plant species. The Division of Forestry set up displays about Masso’s trees and medicinal plants, while another table showcased different kinds of fishing gear and lures.
Volunteer John Jocson, assistant professor from Guam Community College, headed the most popular station, where kids constructed set-ups of bamboo or Phragmites grass, fishing line, and hook. The simple rigs proved effective for first-time fishermen, with more than a few children delighting in their success.
Yohei Harada, fisherman and derby volunteer, fielded questions at his table of fishing gear.
“You’re living on Guam surrounded by water, and if you don’t have any connection to that water or nature in general, it is such a waste. Fishing can help to provide this connection and help us to be proud of our natural resources,” said Harada.
Participants learned how actions on land can impact coral reefs and ongoing efforts to improve upland protection of reefs. For example, the Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division has planted trees in Masso since 1978 to decrease soil erosion, thereby lessening sedimentation on coral reefs. Since 2008, volunteers have planted over 15,000 trees in Masso.
For more information about marine-related education activities at UOG, contact Marie Auyong, Assistant Instructor, at email@example.com.