Next generation of anglers showcased

Asked by emcee Lionel Robert who hooked the three bass he and his partner had weighed in on the final day of the fifth-annual “Castin’ for Cash” tournament this past weekend, Bradley Beacham didn’t pull any punches.
“I caught the two biggest ones,” he said matter-of-factly.
While the average angler likely would have, Beacham declined to give any credit to—or even make mention of—his partner, the guy with whom he shared the boat during the two-day event.
Then again, Bradley Beacham isn’t your average angler. Far from it.
He stands about half the size of most of his competitors, doesn’t own a big bass boat or a bunch of fancy equipment, and has much less angling experience.
And while the other fishermen downed cold beers and swapped stories of their weekend on the lake Sunday as they waited patiently for the final weigh-in to begin, Beacham clutched a snow cone and tried out a nearby swingset.
Just what you’d expect out of a nine-year-old.
Beacham, who was teamed with his dad, Wayne, was just one of a handful of junior anglers who took part in “Castin’ for Cash” this year. The tourney, which typically attracts a few parent-child combinations, boasted about a half-dozen this year.
Greg Swire, who won the “Castin’ for Cash” crown last July, turned to his nine-year-old daughter, Taylor, when he found out his regular partner wouldn’t be available last weekend.
“She was after me all of last year to take her in one,” Swire said, adding he’s been taking Taylor fishing since she was only a toddler. “This was the perfect opportunity, I thought.”
And the youngster wasted no time offering up her services for next year. “She asked me this morning if she could go again,” Swire said yesterday. “She really liked it.”
Another of the tournament’s next generation of competitors was Samantha Stahn, the 10-year-old daughter of Devlin’s Greg Stahn, who said sharing the boat with his youngest child was one of the “highlights of [his] year.”
“I’d always hoped one of my daughters would go with,” he said. “It was quite a treat for me.”
And it didn’t take long for the kids to prove they could hold their own on the lake.
The Swires reeled in a two-day total of 15.67 pounds to finish in 21st spot, among the top-third of the 65 teams entered. Meanwhile, the Stahns (in 36th with 10.34 pounds) and the Beachams (in 39th with 9.40) left a number of all-adult teams in the dust, too.
The young’ns are all good anglers, their dads agreed.
Just like the adults, some of the youngsters did have trouble coping with the sweltering heat (temperatures topped out around 35 C both Saturday and Sunday) but didn’t let the tough conditions deter them.
While most adults anglers downed bottles of water or placed wet towels on their necks to stay cool, Samantha Stahn beat the heat the best way kids know how—jumping in for a swim.
And she didn’t even scare the bass away. Actually, quite the contrary.
“She jumped in the lake and it wasn’t five minutes later I had a fish on my line. And I said to her, ‘Can you jump back in and grab the net?’” the elder Stahn laughed.
With about an hour still to go Sunday, Swire told his daughter that if the heat was too much for her to bear, they could head for shore early. Her response?
“She said, ‘I don’t want to, dad, we still need one more fish,” Greg Swire recalled.
Tourney organizer Bill Godin said he was pleased to see a handful of kids participating last weekend.
“It’s always good to see them out here,” he said. “We usually have a couple every year, but this is the most we’ve had.”
After all, the youngsters are the future of tournament angling in this region. “That’s what keeps these things going is new blood,” Swire said.
“It’s really good to see some young people,” agreed Stahn. “Without that, these things will die.”
Richard’s Rod ’n Reel Service in Devlin donated $50 gift certificates to be awarded to every angler under the age of 13 who took part in “Castin’ for Cash.”