Tourney raises $6,500 for youth crime intervention; 37 boats compete over cash prizes
Saturday’s annual Silver King Classic Tarpon Catch and Release Tournament saw 37 boats turn out for the competition, which awarded cash prizes to the teams bringing in the largest tarpon and raised money for the Cape Coral Youth Crime Intervention Program.
Organizer Mike Gavala said it was only 21 minutes after the shotgun start at Fish Tale Marina on Fort Myers Beach that one of the top teams caught and released its first big tarpon.
In the end, all but one of the winning teams were from the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area. The winning team, Able Body Labor out of Tampa, was presented with a $4,050 check by state Sen. Burt Saunders, who was on hand to join in the festivities and talk about his upcoming run for Congress.
Second place and $1,200 went to the Fish Tale Marina team, comprised of the marina’s dock crew. Third place team Outta Line took home $800.
The Top Angler trophy went to Kyle Hennenberger, a third generation angler from Tampa; top female angler was Nina Riedi of Pompano Beach; and top junior angler when to Christian Fisher, 11, of Fort Myers.
Prizes were awarded not on a biggest-fish basis, but rather to the team that caught and released the most tarpon that day.
Event coordinator Wally Thomas said four teams tied for most releases, which was two each, so the top prize went the team that caught and released them earliest in the day.
Thomas pointed out though that the real winners of the day were the kids in the youth program.
“We raised about $6,500,” he said. “The program gets about $1,000 a year from the county, so the fact that we raised $6,500 for them, that will go a long, long way for them and we’re really excited about that. It’s just a good, good thing.”
Saunders, R-Naples, also focused on the youth program and the importance of the tournament’s donation.
“I worked with (former Cape Coral Police) Chief (Arnold) Gibbs when he put the program together, so it’s nice to see how it’s grown since it started in 1995,” he said.
Saunders’ young sons, Jonathon and Matthew, were also on hand to enjoy the day, which included food, a cash bar and a live and silent auction.
Organizers shipped in hundreds of live crawdads from Louisiana to cook for the crowds; some that escaped the boiling water proved worthy “pets” for the kids.
An unofficial record was set for the day when Marsad Quraishi ate more than 11 plates of spicy crawdads.
“It’s a tradition,” he said, adding that he believes he beat his personal record this time.
The band Bunche played classic rock favorites as Cape Coral Wrestling “Heat” team members bused tables and emptied trash cans.
Several businesses and individuals donated auction items, food, beverages and their time to make the event a success.
Fish Tale Marina now looks forward to the third leg of its Triple Crown Series, the ninth annual Grouper Grab, slated for the weekend of June 28.
The event features a live weigh in, bands, an awards banquet and even a bounce house for the kids.
“The Grouper Grab offers the highest level of competition and true family fun,” organizers said.
Aside from grouper, the tournament will offer prizes for largest snapper and blackfin tuna.
The Grouper Grab benefits the Bouniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, headquartered in Miami. The Lee County chapter serves spinal cord injury victims in this area.
For more information or to register for the tournament, call Fish Tale Marina, 7225 Estero Blvd., at 463-4448 or visit: www.fishtale.com.