You don't have to be very big at all to reel in a big fish at the annual Rod and Gun Club kids' trout tournament, held Saturday morning at Duarte's Pond in West Tisbury.
Three-year-old Jacob Gatchell, barely taller than tournament orgaziner Cooper Gilkes' knee, earned his first-ever prize in the eight-and-under division after he reeled in an 18.25-inch pickerel. The fish was just a quarter-inch larger than his sister Alison's catch. Alison, six, was second in the division.
"Those were the only two fish they caught today," father Kyle Gatchell said after the awards ceremony. Mr. Gatchell won the trout tournament when he was a boy, landing a rainbow trout that he later had mounted.
The Gatchells arrived at about 4:30 a.m. for the tournament, which officially begins at first light. And though the morning began with a thick haze covering the sky, the clouds soon burned off to reveal a perfect spring day. A hopeful osprey circled over Duarte's Pond as insects hummed in the grasses and Canada geese honked by.
The day was so ideal for fishing that some participants stayed with their lines during the awards ceremony: 14-year-old Donald O'Shaughnessy, who won first place in his division with a 16.875-inch pickerel, was still out fishing when his name was announced. This was Donald's last year in the tournament, which is only for those 14 and under.
Hot dogs sizzled on the grill near the awards tent and boxes of doughnuts disappeared quickly. Coffee thermoses were common sights at every fishing spot around the pond — unsurprising given the hour when most of the families had arrived. Trout feed early, and the tournament began in earnest at about 6:30 a.m.
Nathaniel Packer, 13, caught the largest trout of the day around that time, bringing in a 16-inch rainbow trout. Nathaniel fished at sites around the pond — a veteran of the tournament, he offered only that he had caught the prize trout "in the mouth."
The largest fish of the day was a 24.5-inch pickerel caught by 10-year-old Edward Cherry.
In the eight and under division, Jacob Gatchell, three, won first place with his 18.25-inch pickerel. Alison Gatchell, six, was second with an 18-inch pickerel, and William Nicholson, six, was third with a 15.75-inch tiger trout.
In the 9-11 division, Krinne Nivala, 10, caught a 17-inch pickerel to take first place. Landon Cormie, 10, was second with a 14.5-inch rainbow trout and Charlotte Packer, 11, was third with a 13.25-inch rainbow trout.
In the 12-14 division, Donald O'Shaughnessy, 14, took first with a 18.875-inch pickerel, and Bryce Cadrain, 12, took second with a 14.5-inch rainbow trout. Elizabeth O'Brien, 14, was third with a 14.5-inch rainbow trout (in cases of ties, placement is decided by which fish was measured first).