Kids’ Freshwater Derby: Fishing, Flora, Fauna at Masso Reservoir

Kids’ Freshwater Derby: Fishing, Flora, Fauna at Masso Reservoir

Kids’ Freshwater Derby: Fishing, Flora, Fauna at Masso Reservoir


kids fishing with dad

Gabriel Aquino (5), waits patiently for a bite. Photo by Leslie Aquino.


Bread, worms, fish? Or corn, crackers, stale donuts? At the sixth Kids’ Freshwater Fishing Derby held earlier this month, 35 youth between the ages of 5 to 16 participated in the competition held at the Masso Reservoir in Piti.  

Eight-year-old Tianna Vasquez-Bilon won after catching a 186mm tilapia. She contributed to the total derby catch of 69 tilapia, sleepers, and shrimp.

Thomas Detry (10) came in second with a 173mm macheng (sleeper) while Tylor Vasquez-Bilon (10) came in third with a 160mm tilapia.

Other freshwater species living in the Masso Reservoir include umatang (flagtail) and asuli (eel). Early risers could be lucky to hear a pulattat (Marianas moorhen), which has also been known to nest in the area.

Learning about Masso

The derby, using a fishing platform built six years ago, offers youth an opportunity to fish in a safe environment. The Department of Agriculture (Ag) spearheads the annual event to encourage recreational fishing while UOG Cooperative Extension & Outreach coordinated activities to teach people about the area’s natural resources.

Volunteer John Jocson manned a table where he helped participants make simple hook-and-line sets of ahgao (false elder) and pago (beach hibiscus) branches. Returning this year with his antique lures and fishing gear display, volunteer Yohei Harada also taught knot-tying. Using ti leaves and kalachucha’ (plumeria), volunteer Moñeka De Oro helped people weave mwarmwars, or garlands.

A scavenger hunt coordinated by Ag’s Forestry & Soil Resources Division, the Southern Guam Soil & Water Conservation District, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Conservation Program challenged attendees to find mango leaves, lada fruit, bayogu (sea bean) seeds, flowers, and evidence of animal damage throughout the park.

Ag’s Biosecurity Division also set up two microscopes so participants could see little fire ants, a relatively new invasive species. Staff also provided information about the coconut rhinoceros beetle and greater banded hornet.

And if the occasional rain wasn’t enough in the derby’s few hours, Forestry staff lightly hosed kids from their fire truck and 5-gallon water bladder bags. This essential equipment helps 

suppress recent human-caused wildfires around the Nimitz Hill area, which borders the Masso park.

Since 2008, the Department of Agriculture has planted more than 14,000 trees in the Masso area to decrease erosion and help restore the Asan-Piti watershed. Wildfires, all of which on Guam are started by humans, threaten the decade-long restoration effort.

All activities, part of larger island-wide Earth Month events, helped participants to understand Guam’s environment and ways to protect it.


  • Tianna Vasquez-Bilon (8) - 186mm tilapia
  • Thomas Detry (10) - 173mm sleeper
  • Tylor Vasquez-Bilon (10) - 160mm tilapia
  • Isabelle Sunga (13) - 150mm tilapia
  • Jacob Soderquist (8)- 137mm tilapia
  • Mike Halmi, Jr. (15) - 137mm tilapia

The top four winners received rod and reel sets with a tackle box. Fifth and sixth place winners received outdoor camping stools.

For information about upcoming saltwater derbies at Asan in June and July, contact Marie Auyong at (671) 735-2143 ( or Brent Tibbatts at (671) 735-0289 / 0281 / 0294 (

UOG’s College of Natural & Applied Sciences (CNAS) provides science-based information and teaching to the people of Guam on a large range of subjects. Cooperative Extension & Outreach’s mission is to increase residents’ knowledge on topics ranging from pest management and natural resources to business planning and economical living. Check the CNAS website for workshops and other science-based activities at


Fishing platform

Platform: Over 70 attendees went to Masso during the derby’s three hours. Photo by Jay Sunga.


Rhino beetle bait

Rhino bait: Some participants tried baiting their hooks with invasive coconut rhino beetle grubs taken from Biosecurity’s table. Photo by Glenn Dulla.


Masso Park plants

Scavenger: Staff challenged participants to explore Masso park and compare plant species. Photo by Erica Pangelinan.