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Tarpon tourney reels in $40,000 ‘Ding’ Darling

By Staff | May 23, 2013

The Doc Ford’s gang is all smiles about the big payoff for this year’s tarpon tournament.

The second annual “Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournament on May 4 netted $40,000 from sponsorships to benefit the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

“One hundred percent of the anglers’ registration fees went to the awards purse,” said tournament organizer Birgie Vertesch, executive director of “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge (DDWS). “That’s why our sponsorship partners are so dear to us. They pay the costs for putting on the tourney and the charity proceeds.”

DDWS hosted the tournament along with Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille of Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach and soon-to-be Captiva Island. Tournament social events took place at the Fort Myers Beach location.

DDWS also announced the dates for the 2014 tournament, which will start on Friday, May 2, with the captain’s pre-party and continue on Saturday, May 3, with the “catch, release, and care” tournament and Silver King for “Ding” After-Party.

The public again is invited to purchase advance tickets to the after-party, which includes an awards ceremony, dinner, drinks, and a silent auction. Nearly 160 guests attended this year’s after-party.

“We call it a catch, release, and care tournament because education and research are at the forefront of the event’s mission,” said John McCabe, DDWS president and tourney participant the last two years.

“The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission needs help from citizen scientists, and that is the primary purpose for this tournament,” said Vertesch. “The anglers get extra points for doing DNA scrubs, which give the FWC important information to track tarpon and learn more about helping them survive as a species.”

For more information on the tournament and to view this year’s winners, visit www.dingdarlingtarpontourney.org.

Tournament sponsors for 2013 included: Title Sponsor: Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille; Presenting Sponsor: Diversified Yacht Services of Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Bean; Platinum Sponsor: Florida Weekly, Lamar Advertising, Suncoast Beverage; Gold Sponsors: Anisa Stewart Designs, Bella Signs & Designs, Dan Hahn Custom Builders, Fort Myers Marine, Holiday Inn of Sanibel, Island Sun, Myers, Brettholtz & Company, PA, Sealife by Congress; Silver Sponsors: Blue Ash Media, Gulf Star Marina, John Grey Painting, Key West Express, Paradise Advertising and Design, R.S. Walsh Landscaping, Sanibel Captiva Daily, Sanibel Island Fishing Club, Shoreline Lumber.