Ethan Mayes
Ethan Mayes. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

A 13-year-old San Diego resident is the first person to win the Master Ocean Angler award from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife‘s California Fishing Passport program, it was announced Tuesday.

Ethan Mayes earned the award by catching 50 species of saltwater game fish, reaching the milestone in August by catching a black-and-yellow rockfish in Monterey.

He is the first to win the Master Ocean Angler award since the CDFW introduced the California Fishing Passport program in January 2007, according to the state agency.

The teen began recording his catches in 2014, reeling in several of them at the Shelter Island Pier in San Diego. He didn’t consider the award achievable until he caught his 25th species, earning him the Accomplished Ocean Angler award.

“That was really a big turning point,” he said. “I was like, wow, this is really happening and I could get to 50 at some point.”

Fishermen and women can earn California Fishing Passport program awards in 14 categories, including warm-water fishing, coldwater fishing and shellfish. Should Ethan earn a master-level award in another category, he would become the first person to earn the designation of Supreme Master Angler.

The teen said he plans to tackle the shellfish category next, in which he would need to catch 15 species of inland and ocean shellfish to earn a Shellfish Master award.

“Ethan has the adventurous spirit and determination needed to travel the state’s waters in search of new fish to catch — which are the hallmarks of a California Fishing Passport Master Angler,” said CDFW Awards Administrator Mary Patyten. “It really is an amazing feat, especially for such a young angler. He is an extraordinary young man.”

— City News Service