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Islanders’ limbering up’ for mullet toss

By Staff | Jan 17, 2012

Individuals will have the opportunity to try a hand at throwing a mullet for the longest distance during the Mullet Tossing 21st Annual Championship next month at the Matlacha Community Park.

The mullet toss began 21 years ago due to the people of the island becoming bored after tourist season ended. Jerry Tolliver, a Matlacha Mariners member, said since mullet was what they fished for, they had them on the boat and knew that they were slippery. After they sat around with a cold bottle of beer in their hands, Tolliver said they challenged each other to see who could throw the mullet the furthest.

Tolliver said they use mullet for the competition because they are easily accessible and can be recycled as crab bait or crab food after the event is over.

From there the event was born and has become a tradition of the island every year.

Tolliver said the original mullet toss championship began at Mulletville Restaurant. He said they had the mullet toss out the back door towards the Lob Lolly restaurant.

After Judy Gay could not do the event anymore, Tolliver said, she asked the Mariners to help her continue the annual mullet toss.

“We did and when she got out to of the restaurant business, she gave us the event to continue,” he said.

The annul mullet toss will be held Feb. 4 at Matlacha Community Park with registration beginning at 10 a.m. The kid’s competition will be held from 10:30 a.m. until noon and the adult competition will be held from 12:15-4:30 p.m.

There is a registration fee of $5 per toss for adults and $2 registration fee per toss for kids 15 years old and younger.

The competition includes five categories: “fry mullet division” for boys and girls 1-5 years old; “fingerling mullets” for boys and girls 6-10 years old; “juvenile mullet” for boys and girls 11-15 years old; “adult mullet” for men and women 16-60 years old and “grey mullet division” for those who are 61 years old and older.

Tolliver said they get all ages of contestants for the event, which ranges from the little ones who are just big enough to waddle up the line on up to the senior citizen group. He said the more fierce competitors of the event are the women.

“The women are more competitive than the men,” Tolliver said.

He said this will be the third year they have held the mullet toss at the park.

“It is a good location for it and it is a location we can continue to have year after year,” Tolliver said due to an agreement they have with the county.

Although the event raises anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000 for the Recreational Center at the Matlacha Park, he said it is more of a social event for the community.

The event typically attracts 500-600 people, which has included some local celebrities who have thrown the first mullet.

Tolliver said he enjoys the annual event because it gives him an opportunity to see a lot of people he does not see throughout the year.

“This event is a magnet for a lot of local people,” he said.

The day of festivities will also include some vendors who will have hamburgers, hot dogs, shrimp and maybe smoked mullet for sale.