Strutting down Ventura Pier, seven long, shiny fishing poles in one hand, a large white bucket in the other, John W. Strobel III smiled broadly and boasted Saturday about his grandchild's big catch.
"My grandson caught a sea trout--eight ounces!" he crowed. "A monster!"
Strobel said Saturday morning's Gone Fishin' Sportfishing Tournament--an "inter-generational event" designed to bring the elderly, the young and everyone in between together for a day of angling--was the first chance he has had to take his grandson Jason, 12, fishing. Jason has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair.
"I always feel that it's a little bit lopsided when I take the other kids fishing," said Strobel, 63, referring to frequent boat trips with two other grandsons. "I can't get Jason out on the boat," said Strobel, adding that Jason's parents feel uncomfortable sending their son on board in a wheelchair. "It was a lot easier to get him on the pier."
Starting at 6 a.m., the Strobels and nine of their relatives joined droves of other families angling at Saturday's tournament, which was organized by Ventura's community services department. Skip Robinson, senior services recreation coordinator, said more than 200 people attended, about twice as many as had been projected for the first-time event.
Held on the recently restored Ventura Pier, the tournament required each group registering for the contest to bring at least one person age 50 or older. Awards for the heaviest fish caught were presented in various age divisions and categories, including grandparent-child, mother-child, father-child and "pals and over 50."
Eight-year-old Sarah Senate, of Ventura, took the grand prize for her 5 1/2-pound halibut, receiving a custom fishing pole and tackle box from sponsoring businesses.
"We wanted a program that would integrate all ages together," Robinson said. "There's a kind of tendency in our society to isolate the senior segment."
And on Saturday, John Strobel said he got his first chance to teach Jason how to hook bait and cast lines. The result: With the help of his grandfather, Jason reeled in the second-heaviest fish in the 9-to-12-year-old category.
"I was just shocked," said an excited Jason. "I thought after the high tide left it was going to be too late to catch one."