Record turnout for Bobby Holloway tournament
A record amount of licensed captains and kids participated in the 15th Annual Bobby Holloway Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament this past weekend.
Eleven-year-old Jade Leutenberg’s excitement grew Saturday as she was given the opportunity to hold her redfish, which weighed 3 pounds, 6 ounces, up for her friends and family to see.
“It was really fun,” she said of her first time going out on the water fishing.
Leutenberg said she really liked her captain, Bill Sammons. She said he was the best captain because he was so nice.
Sammons was the captain for the team Girls Just Wanna Have Fish, which came in third in the 15th Annual Bobby Holloway Jr. Memorial Fishing Tournament.
Sammons, who was born and raised in Fort Myers, said this is the third year he has volunteered his time during the tournament as a captain. This year he brought Debi Rusnell with him as his first mate.
He said the girls on his team probably caught 50 fish, seven different species, while they were out on the water between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday.
“It was a good time, will do it again next year,” Sammons said.
Pam Young, Leutenberg’s grandmother, said she thought the tournament was fantastic.
“I was so excited for her to be in this,” she said.
The family recently moved to the island six months ago from Virginia.
This year the tournament attracted 41 kids – 37 went on chartered boats and four on the regular adult angler boats.
Darsey Smith, one of the organizers of the kid’s portion of the tournament, said they had 12 licensed captains for the youth, which is the most they have ever had. She said the 15th annual attracted the most kids as well.
The youngsters had the opportunity to fish in the tournament for free Saturday, due to each boat being sponsored.
Smith said the Bobby Holloway Memorial Fund helps the captains pay for their fuel as a thank you for their donated time and fishing poles for the youngsters.
“We couldn’t do it without those captains,” she said, adding that a lot of them are chartered guides who are giving up their Saturday to take the kids out on the water. “They do it year after year.”
The youngsters had to catch one pinfish, which was the mystery fish, one redfish, two trout and the biggest lady fish. Smith said each child who participated in the tournament received a participation medal.
The first place team was Glass Half Full of Red; second place went to The Bulls; third place was earned by Girls Just Wanna Have Fish; fourth place was earned by The Bama Gang; and the fifth place kids’ team went to Mullet Heads.
A total of 46 boats participated in the adult tournament Saturday. The adults had to fish for one pinfish, which was the mystery fish, one redfish and two trout. They boats had to be in by 3:30 p.m. for weigh in.
“I’m blessed,” Ernestine Holloway Squires, president of the Bobby Holloway Memorial Fund said. “It’s amazing to me of the people who give and give.”
She said the tournament is great because it provides many kids with the opportunity to go fishing for the first time, all in memory of her son Bobby Holloway Jr., who lost his life at the age of 11 in 1997 in a hunting accident.
“I’m most pleased that we have 12 captains,” Holloway Squires said smiling. “What memories they are going to make” for the kids.
She said it is an island event that continues to help raise the kids of the island.
“The island just keeps giving,” Holloway Squires said.
The ultimate goal of the Bobby Holloway Memorial Fund is to build a youth center on Pine Island to provide youngsters with a place to go to participate in extracurricular activities.
The best part of the tournament, Holloway Squires said, is the young people will continue to grow the tournament for years to come.