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Home on the water

By Staff | Jun 27, 2012

CAROL ORR HARTMAN Tournament director Ron Riley (left) sits with Caloosa Elite Guide Capt. Glen Brownleee, Brian Stauder, tournament coordinator Kristi Riley and FGCU intern Sammi Bidlack on a flats boat before the 22nd Caloosa Catch & Release Tournament on Captiva.

Captiva and Jensen’s Beach is a behive of activity with the arrival of the 23rd annual Caloosa Catch & Release fishing tournament.

The Caloosa tournament, based on Captiva launching out of Jensen’s Marina, is the first qualifier for the Caloosa Tournament Series that also includes the Summer Slam on Sept. 21-22 and Grand Championship on Nov. 2-3. Many of the same anglers also fish the offshore Grouper Grab in August.

To be eligible for the Grand Championship event anglers must have scored points with a legal fish in either the Caloosa or Summer Slam tournaments or both.

Shore activities this weekend are centered at the Celebration Center of Capitva off Andy Rossi Lane. Many participants and spectators alike turn this popular event into a short vacation.

The mandatory captains’ meeting Thursday followed check-in for the expected 35-plus fishing teams at the Celebration Center. The meeting also included a fundraising auction/raffle.

“There’s no maximum on the number of teams,” said tournament director Ron Riley. “Typically, we get a lot of last-minute entries. Most teams fish from flats boats with three or more anglers.”

Fishing teams launch from Jensen’s Marina from 5-8 a.m. Friday and Saturday and fish until the weigh station opens. Wade fishing is allowed as long as at least one angler remains on the boat.

The target species is redfish with a mystery fish announced at the captains’ meeting. Fish must meet minimum measurement requirements and FWC slot regulations to be weighed.

Weigh-ins are only allowed from 3-5 p.m. each day. An awards dinner closes the event at 7 p.m. Saturday.

The tournament awards up to $10,000 in cash and prizes for the heaviest redfish each day and team with heaviest fish two days combined.