Marblehead Teen Finishes Second in World Championship Qualifier Fly Fishing TournamentSam Hart tallied over 250 points to capture a second place finish in the Tres Pescado fly fishing tournament held in Ambergris Caye, Belize.
It's not everyday a 17-year-old boy becomes and international celebrity, but that's exactly what happened for Sam Hart. The Marblehead resident and avid fisherman, placed second in the Tres Pescado Slam Tournament's Professional Division in Ambergris Caye, Belize last weekend.
"It's a really big deal to the people down there," said Hart, "When I was walking through the town with the trophy people were saying I was now a celebrity and that everyone would know who I was."
In 2009, Sam and his father John Hart, who introduced Sam to the sport five years ago, entered the competition's amateur division. Putting their disappointing finish behind them, the father and son pairing decided to step up the challenge and compete with the professionals in 2010.
Each of the 13 teams that comprised the pro division were allowed three crew members; a guide and two fishers. The winner of the tournament earns a spot in the IFGA Florida Keys Outfitters Inshore World Championship.
"We partnered with Abbie Marin, a friend of ours who is the best guide in that area," said Hart. "He decided only the best angler on the boat should fish instead of having the allowed two competitors, and he chose me."
Sam's father and mentor in the sport had no objections to being a spectator.
"We weren't going to argue with the best guide in the tournament," Hart said.
Three species of fish –tarpon, permit and bonefish- were eligible catches for the tournament, with points being awarded for length and bonus points given for variety of fish caught.
During the catch-and-release competition, Hart reeled in his first ever permit fish caught on a fly rod, which added 75 points to his total and a notch to his fisherman's resume.
Sam's father John began fly fishing about 10 years ago, and taught Sam the art a few years later. It wasn't until Sam's eighth-grade school year that he took a serious interest in fly rod fishing.
"I didn't really like fly fishing when I first learned, but after a couple of years I started taking it seriously and then last year's amateur division of the Tres Pescado was my first fly fishing tournament entry," he said.
Now a student at St. John's Prep in Danvers, Sam is a member of the school's fishing club. Last year the team defeated Central Catholic in the annual match up between the two schools.
Despite competing mainly against men around the age of 40 for the event, Sam Hart came within three feet of taking first place.
"We had about a 40-pound tarpon up to the boat, and when it was three feet away, ready to be pulled on to the boat, the hook snapped and we lost it," Hart said. "That would have won us the tournament."
Not one to be haunted by "the one that got away," Hart plans on competing in the Tres Pescado again next year.
"We've already put our money down to reserve Abbie as our guide again next year, and if I go in with the same mindset I think I can do just as well or even better."
The funds raised from the many sponsors that supported the event allowed the tournament to hand over a $6,000 check to Green Reef in support their ongoing Sport Fish Program effort needed to protect the over $60 million dollar resource that these 3 fish represent to Belize. PICS