Fish in Long Beach waters will have plenty to eat this Friday — at their own risk.
The Funky Monkey Kids Fishing Rodeo will place about 700 young anglers off the Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier as they try to catch the area’s biggest and most interesting fish.
“It’s become a bigger and bigger event, especially over the last three years,” said Christopher Scott, chairman of the Southern California Tuna Club.
While the city pulled out from paying for the event four years ago, Alfredo’s Beach Club and the Southern California Tuna club have worked hard to maintain the event and continue to grow it, said Alfredo’s owner Fred Khammar.
“Their dads have done it, and they bring their kids out — it’s just a great tradition of the city of Long Beach and we didn’t want to lose that,” he said.
The contest is open to children 16 years old and younger. Children younger than 12 years old need an adult to accompany them. It will last from 8 a.m. until noon.
“It’s a neat event to introduce fishing to kids who haven’t fished before,” Scott said.
Keeping that in mind, he added, the California Game and Fish Department will provide 80 pole setups for those who don’t have anything to use.
“They don’t have to bring a tackle or pole or anything,” Scott said. “It’s an element we haven’t had before, so that’s exciting.”
Volunteers will be present from the state Game and Fish Department, Parks, Recreation and Marine Department and both the Boy and Girl Scouts, in order to help young anglers be ready to cast out into the ocean.
“There will be lots of supervision,” Khammar said.
The event will include a free lunch and a free raffle, where children could win bikes, aquarium tickets or even half-day boat passes. Walkups will not be turned away, Scott said.
For organizers, other than keeping a tradition that’s in its 57th year, the event also can serve as a good educational experience.
“It’s great to have the kids understand the sea life, the habitats and the species proliferation from the smallest little gobies to the sharks,” Scott said. “It’s amazing the life that we’ve got in and around the Belmont Pier area.”
About 30 different species of fish were snagged during the catch-and-release event last year, Scott said, and the battle for most strange or unusual fish always turns up some oddities. In years past he said he’d seen a lobster, starfish, bonefish, midshipman and even a barnacle-clad fishing pole “some angler must have lost years ago,” be unearthed from the sea.
Organizers said they hoped that new fishing enthusiasts would be born out of the event.
“Fishing goes way back — it’s very biblical — and we’re fortunate enough to be one of the few places that has a pier that doesn’t require a fishing license,” Khammar said.
Scott emphasized the importance of the sport being both accessible and for all ages.
“It’s a very inexpensive sport,” he said. “I have a 4-year-old with his own pole and he can bring them up himself.”
For more information, visit the Web site at www.alfredosbeachclub.com.