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Florida Kid Hooks $25K Fishing Scholarship



For 14-year-old angler John Amico of Palm City, Florida, persistence finally paid off, to the tune of a $25,000 scholarship presented by the CCA Florida STAR Tournament and Realtree Fishing.

Eleven different species of saltwater fish are eligible for entry during the youth portion of the tournament. Amico won the scholarship after submitting more than 90 entries during the 2022 event. The Florida STAR is the crown jewel of Florida’s Coastal Conservation Association, and it lasts from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Amico joins thousands of other kids each spring in competition for the scholarship. “I’ve been trying to win for four years now,” he said. For each catch and submission, an angler earns another chance at winning a scholarship prize. The more entries, the better the chance. Amico fished with his parents, Rhett and Alicia, and his mentor, Bob Pelosi, nearly every day of the summer tournament in a quest to submit the maximum number of entries.

Amico saw the benefit of joining the Florida STAR competition early. “My friend won it his first year,” he mentioned, referring to the big prize going to Denton Potter in 2020. Potter also fishes with Pelosi, a captain and lifelong angler who is something of a local legend in the Martin County fishing community. Pelosi now spends most of his time teaching and helping others, especially young people, become better anglers.

“The secret is to submit a catch every day,” Pelosi said, at Amico’s award ceremony. “When it’s nice out, you go fishing. When it’s blowing, you still go down and try to catch a snapper off the dock; whatever it takes to submit an entry.”

With hungry teenagers as fishing partners, it doesn’t take much convincing to hit the water every day. When asked to pick a personal favorite fish, Amico’s response was almost comical. “Can I pick three?” he asked. “How about three inshore and three offshore?” Even that took considerable internal debate. “Tarpon, pompano, and tripletail inshore,” he said. “Sailfish, kingfish, and dolphin offshore.” But then he regretted not being able to include wahoo as well.

Since its inception in 2015, CCA Florida STAR has awarded over $ million in prizes and $500,000 in scholarships. Realtree, a proud partner in the family outdoor experience since 1986, has supported the event since 2018 with more than $150,000 worth of funding

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