Invitational Snook and Redfish Challenge has best turnout yet
Two friends, who were also fraternity brothers in college, decided to put together the annual McFlat’s Invitational Snook and Redfish Challenge six years ago to give back to the Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Florida.
Since Tim Frederic owns six McDonald’s restaurants in Cape Coral and Mitch Williamson loves to fish, the pair of friends decided to begin the annual fishing tournament.
His son was born a little early, Williamson said, so they decided to put a fund raiser on because the Ronald McDonald House were so generous to his family.
Since he owns the franchise McDonalds, he also decided to do something for the cause, Frederic said, adding that “it has been a success ever since.”
Williamson said the McFlat’s Invitational Snook and Redfish Challenge is a “local tournament with local people supporting a local foundation.”
It has one of the largest participations in short tournaments in Southwest Florida, he added.
The two-day event began Friday night with dinner, live music and a Texas Hold Em’ poker tournament. Saturday morning the festivities kicked off with the adult fishing tournament at 7:30 a.m. and then the kids tournament began at 10 a.m.
The Saturday afternoon events involved a two-hour kid’s fishing tournament with special guest Ronald McDonald.
Frederic said the festivities Saturday afternoon was awesome for the kids. He said they had 125 children participate, which was an increase from last year, and every single one of them caught a fish.
Captain Kelly Tolbert said the young anglers who participated ranged in age from 3 years old to teenagers. He said even with the intense heat Saturday afternoon, the majority of the children lasted until noon when the tournament ended.
They caught flounder, snapper, catfish and a 10-inch snook off of the dock at Tarpon Point Marina, he said. All of the kids were provided with a fishing rod and a T-shirt for their fishing experience, Tolbert said.
“They had a great time,” Frederic said.
Tolbert said the best thing about the kids tournament is that every kid is a winner.
Ronald McDonald later arrived by boat bringing free Happy Meals for the children to eat in the Hope Ballroom at Tarpon Point Marina.
Ronald McDonald does a great magic trick and a great show for the kids after they are done fishing.
“It is good for the community and a great cause for the Ronald McDonald house,” Tolbert said. “It introduces people to the fishing industry and provides great exposure to the marina and the Resort with Marina Village.”
He said he hopes to do it again next year.
The adult tournament attracted 58 boats, Frederic said, which was also “awesome.”
Williamson said the fishermen had to be back at the dock by 4:30 to have their fish weighed. He said this year the first place winner will receive $7,500.
A lot of people give that money right back to the Ronald McDonald House, he said, adding that there are a lot of generous people here.
Frederic said this year’s tournament had an amazing turnout, which he believes is because of the great cause the tournament benefits.
He said it attracts so many participants because the fishing tournament is a family event on a nice holiday weekend.
“It keeps families together for a nice holiday weekend,” Frederic said.
Williamson said this year is by far the best participation they have received since beginning the annual event six years ago.
The annual event ended with a live and silent auction, dinner and awards, to support the Ronald McDonald house.
Williamson said they expected 450 people in attendance at the dinner Saturday night, which was to include the anglers, guests and individuals who want to support the Ronald McDonald House.
“Tonight’s dinner and auction is going to be off the charts,” he said.
Williamson said he believes the one-day event will have raised $60,000 for the Ronald McDonald house.