During the summer months, with money raised by the Marina del Rey Anglers’ annual Halibut Derby, the group’s Youth Fishing Program, in association with the Betty-O sport fishing boat, take out groups of kids for a day of ocean fishing.

In most cases these children come from challenging home situations and the program’s purpose is to inspire and enlighten them through this unique educational experience.

On many of the trips, it’s common that a majority of kids bring in a catch of some kind, although it’s also common that many of them get skunked.

What isn’t so ordinary is when there are prize-winning-caliber fish brought in by first-time fishermen, which is what happened last Saturday during one of the afternoon outings when a few of them landed halibuts of eight pounds, ten pounds, 28 pounds and 44.6 pounds, the latter being bigger than the winning catch for the recently held Marina del Rey Halibut Derby.

“This is the most historic, unprecedented, unbelievable youth fishing trip MDRA (Marina del Rey Anglers) has ever hosted,” said Marina del Rey Anglers president and trip supervisor Ken Raymond. “Seeing four big halibut landed on any one day on any one boat with seasoned anglers would be newsworthy, but this is truly amazing.”

The kids were from the Mid-Valley Youth Center of Van Nuys, which is a transitional residential youth facility, and the yearly trip acts as a reward for children who are making positive changes through the facility’s framework.

“It was so big and pulled so hard, I thought it was a monster,” said the lucky 12-year-old angler and Mid-Valley Youth Center resident of the experience. “I still can’t believe it happened.

“All the kids and adults were screaming and cheering. It was really cool.”

In addition to the outstanding halibut catches, other young anglers landed a variety of other fish, making for an exceptional fishing day in Santa Monica Bay.

“Of course they also scored a nice catch of barracuda and sand bass, and probably believe this was just another normal day out on the water,” said Marina del Rey angler Larry Brown with a laugh. “How many of us have never even landed a ten-pound halibut?”

The Marina del Rey Anglers youth program has been in existence for 25 years and will host over 1,100 kids on 56 trips during June, July and August this year.

All funding comes from the proceeds of the Annual Marina del Rey Halibut Derby for the Anglers to host a number of trips for youth groups, including Boys and Girls Clubs, homes and centers for kids with physical and mental handicaps, and youth programs run by the Los Angeles Police Department and the County Sheriff’s Department.

“We are very proud of our program, our volunteers and most importantly of the children participating in the program,” said Ken Feldman, chairman of the Marina del Rey Anglers Youth Fishing Program.

“Many of these kids have never been fishing and many have never even seen the ocean, even though they live in the L.A. Basin. The joy on their faces when landing even a small fish and the thanks they express after every trip make all the hard work worth it.”

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