Quality Time: 7-Year-Old Catches Sailfish On Mother-Daughter Fishing Trip
HOOKED ON FISHING: Tylerís Olivia Young gets a helping hand from guide Leonardo Bradley with the 7-foot sailfish she caught fishing out of Belize.
Olivia Young was 5 when she got her first taste of saltwater while fishing off the coast of Belize.
At the ripe old age of 7, the All Saints first-grader has accomplished something her fishing partner/mother, Ginger, still hopes to do -- she landed a sailfish.
Since marrying in the Caribbean nation 10 years ago, Bob and Ginger Young have made it a vacation spot at least twice a year.
"When we first started going down there there were no paved roads, no cell phones, computers or TV," Ginger Young said of the once-British colony that borders Mexico and Guatemala.
Today, Ambergris Caye, a tiny island near the Mexican Yucatan that serves as their base in the Central American nation, counts tourism as its leading industry. That hasn't kept the Youngs from making it their go-to vacation destination. Olivia made her first trip out on the boat when she was about 18 months. When she was 5 she landed an 18-pound barracuda. Last year a 20-pounder was her best fishing during a day's mother-daughter outing that has now become a tradition on the trip.
Ginger Young says the trips with her daughter weren't intended to have a gender bias, it is just that she doesn't think her husband, a more serious fly fisherman, has the patience for girls' outings that are as much about sight-seeing and talking as they are about fishing. She actually started going with friends the day after the couple was married. The natural progression was years later to include her daughter.
"She loves it, which is surprising because we don't do a lot of hunting and fishing up here. She loves the wildlife down there. She could fish all day," Ginger Young said.
Mom sees the fishing as a good break in Olivia's normally packed schedule of school, dance, violin, piano, choir, storytelling competition and most recently basketball. She also sees it as a chance for a girl to gain confidence outside her comfort zone starting at a young age.
"We started when she was 5. This is the third time we have gone together," Ginger Young said.
Their outings have always been with Leonardo Bradley, a local guide who understands this won't be the most hardcore anglers he will take all year. If they become bored, he will boat them to another location where they might fish or maybe jump in and snorkel the blue Caribbean waters. Or they might hop off the boat at one of the tiny islands for lunch in a local caf√Į¬Ņ¬©.
Until this year, most of their fishing days were inside the reefs in the shallow waters, where they caught the barracuda and jackfish. The days started with the Youngs onboard early enough to ride with the crew to catch the day's bait fish. Learning about fishing from beginning to the end -- their catch might become ceviche or food for a local family -- is an important part of the trip.
"She will often ask me, 'Who are we catching fish for today,'" her mother said.
Getting to watch a manatee or dolphins swimming through the shallows in the early morning hours is a bonus.
On this trip, Bradley guided the small 25-foot boat through a cut in the reef and made the short run to deep water.
"It was a full moon and the fishing was terrible," Ginger Young recalled of the day's fishing.
The half-day trip had produced nothing until the last troll of the day, and a kiss.
"My mom said we were going there and if we catch a fish it might be a sailfish. She said give her a good-luck kiss and it was not two seconds after the fish was there," Olivia recalled.
With both mother and daughter holding rods on the aft of the boat, Olivia got the hook up. Accustomed to shallow-water fishing, there was immediate intrigue because no one knew for sure what might be at the other end of the line deep below the water's surface.
"We were fishing in about 400 feet of water. Sailfish usually run on top so we didn't know what it was," Ginger Young said.
Without a fighting seat, mother was holding onto daughter as she worked the fish in. The captain also continually maneuvered the boat to make the fight easier. Still it wasn't easy especially using standard tackle with 20-pound line.
"She fought it for 15 minutes. She was really lucky," the mother said.
"I was laughing so much. It was awesome," said Olivia of the fight that included three jumps.
Tired and a little afraid the fish might win the tug-of-war, Olivia eventually had her mother take over for what ended up being another 10-minute fight.
The fish turned out to be a 7-foot sail, considered about average for the area, but three feet longer than the angler who caught it.
Even though her mother brought it to the boat, under the Young's family rules it counted as Olivia's catch.
"She has to hook it and get it halfway to the boat to count," Ginger Young said. In this case she got it more than two-thirds before tiring out.http://www.tylerpaper.com/article/20090329/SPORTS0202/903290303