By Gaige Davila
Harkening back to a Port Isabel of yesteryears, Cameron County Judge Benito Ochoa IV hosted the first annual “Fishing with the Judge” event this past Saturday.
Hundreds of kids and parents took to the Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier on June 12, rods and bait in hand, most of which provided by Ochoa. Over 200 fishing rods and 200 t-shirts were given out to participants.
Texas Parks and Wildlife agents were on scene, too, letting kids touch and take photos with a baby alligator as young anglers brought in various shallow-water sea life with screams of joy.
“We had a good turnout for the first annual (event),” Ochoa told the PRESS from Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier. “This was an event for kids. The summer just started, so we wanted as many people as we could to come out and enjoy themselves and learn the sport of fishing.”
He continued, “it’s a lifelong hobby that they can always have.”
Ochoa said this event was to introduce local youth to fishing in the Laguna Madre area. Many kids caught their first fish from the pier that day. Asked why he selected a fishing event, Ochoa said it goes back to his upbringing in the Laguna Madre.
“Fishing’s in our backyard. I grew up fishing here in the Laguna Madre as a kid fishing with a Coke can, some string tied around it and a hook,” Ochoa said. “This fishing pier, I would get dropped off at nights as a kid and spend a couple of hours out here. We’re very fortunate to have the Laguna Madre and the Gulf of Mexico right here in our backyard.”
The event has its roots in the Vega Kids Fishing Classic, hosted by then-Port Isabel Mayor Joe Vega, who is now the Cameron County Parks and Recreation Director. Vega hosted the kids fishing event for several years as mayor, also at the Pirate’s Landing Fishing Pier.
Ochoa is hopeful for another “Fishing with the Judge Event” next year, saying more events hosted by him were upcoming.