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Silver King tourney returns, global anglers hooked

By Staff | Apr 30, 2015

The trio in front of the Doc Ford’s sign are Ding Darling’s Sarah Lathrop (left) and Ding Friends/Society executive director Birgie Miller, Doc Ford’s co-owner and event sponsor Marty Harrity. Craig Garrett

Only in its fourth season, a Sanibel-based tarpon tournament has caught fire with anglers.

The “Ding” Darling & Doc Ford’s Tarpon Tournament on May 9 will bring anglers from Europe, the western states and Florida for the event and the pre/post celebration. The European team of journalists will travel from Scotland, Denmark and Briton. Others from Canada, Colorado, Louisiana are among the states and nations represented at the catch-and-release event in Fort Myers Beach.

A handful of team slots remain for the event that will benefit the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge/Ding Wildlife Society. Sponsors will accept auction items, and visitors are encouraged to join in pre- and post-event activities. Cash prizes are awarded to the team landing the most tarpon. Prizes will exceed $20,000, with last year’s winning team clearing nearly $11,000. Last year’s winning team, the Boomer Sooners, are returning.

The deadline to register is April 30. Entry fee for a boat of up to four anglers is $500. One hundred percent of the fee intake goes into the awards purse, which many anglers understand as rare in Florida fishing. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge host the event with support from title sponsor Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille and other local businesses and private donors.

The “catch, care, and release” tournament earns money from sponsorships and silent auctions to benefit wildlife and conservation education at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel.

“The playing field is limited to 50 boats,” said Birgie Miller, the Ding Society’s executive director and tournament organizer. “Last year’s first place winners won $10,744, and more than $40,000 went into refuge coffers. We are very excited, especially with a tournament for responsible fishing.”

Four journalists from Scotland and Denmark will team up to fish and cover the tournament May 9. The combined circulation of the team’s news and fishing publications is more than 2.3 million.

Captain Jim Patrick from the UK writes for the daily Sun and Scottish Sun newspapers. Teammate Paul O’Hare covers news, sports, and other features about Scotland for the Daily Record. Paul Fenech will be covering the tournament for the monthly Sea Angler magazine, while Niels Lagergaard Pedersen from Denmark writes for the monthly Fiske Avisen.

The team’s participation was made possible through a partnership between the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau and the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge.

The Captain’s Dinner takes place the evening prior to the tournament, Friday, May 8, at Doc Ford’s in Fort Myers Beach. Following Saturday’s competition, the Silver King for “Ding” after-party will be open to the public with limited tickets available at $50 for each non-angler, including dinner and a silent auction.

“There’s not another tarpon tournament like this one in the area,” Doc Ford’s co-owner Marty Harrity said.

Tournament teams as of April 9 include: 1 Doc Ford’s: Nick Fischer; Josh Constantine; Daniel Andrews; Tim Landry 2 Diversified Yacht Services: Billy Poulos; Andy Paulet; John Colagiovanni 3 Chasin’ Poon: Matt Mitchell; Gary Biltgen; Mary Laser; Wade Robert 4 Kraka Dawn: Dave Koschara, Nathan Koschara; Dan Salazar 5 Fishin’ Divas: Jimmy Burnsed; Cindy Brown; Debbie Powers; Lauren Thomas 6 Boomer Sooners: John McDaniel; Curt Will; Ed Meyers; Les Boyle 7 Window’s Plus: Kenneth Andrew Borton; Ed Bradford; John Hopkins; Chris Heyer; Leonardo Mendez; Ed Alsop 8 Tarpon Play Explorers: Steve Yetsko; Donna Yetsko; Adam Sauerland; Devon Collins 9 Tarpon Bay Fishaholics: Andrew Pollack; David Lombardi; Brie Coffman; Steve Maddix 10 Raiser’s Edge: David Raisbeck; Jay Brown; Bruce Gurall; Tracy Walters; Jim Stevens; Nelson Diaz 11 RS Walsh: Ozzie Lessinger; Bob Walsh; Jeremy Walsh; Justin Walsh 12 Fishing & Chips: Jim Patrick; Paul O’Hare; Paul Fenech; Neils Lagergaard Pedersen; Ryan Kane 13 Trophy Case: Don Taylor; Kim Owens; Matt Aschandorf; Daniel Owens 14 Jensen’s Marina: Dave Godfrey; Paul Primeaux; Alec Primeaux; John Carnes 15 Whutza Tarpin??: Russell Wildman; Jeff Plocharski; Dan Ross; Steve Hiller 16 The Shutter Guy: Bruce Page; Paul Jackson; 17 Maastricht Engineering: Pete Maastricht; Randy Phinney; Ralph Delgado 18 Cape Coral Tarpon Hunters: Jim Patchett 19 Gotta Go!: Rick Powers; Lance Powers; Trey Thomas; Jim Thomas; Robert Ireland 20 Team Gulf Star: Todd Carroll; Wendi Carroll; Chris Carroll 21 Fintastic Charters: Randy Eastvold; Sean McGarry; Tim Hickey; Bob Rando 22 Team Teaser: Rhett Dixon; Brandon Barnhill; Jack Hehenberger; Stuart Hehenberger 23 The Southern Office: Jack Gaughan; Ken Swanson; Joe Lucero; Ken Lambert 24 Sanibel Gear: Pete Savage 25 Carney Properties: Steve Alleva; Denise Carney; Randy Mortenson; Scott Shane; Brandon Gaertner 26 Westwind Dental: Colin Smith; Andrew Lowe; Gregory Smith; Michele Smith; Rob Cooper 27 Kristy’s Kritters: Chris Sammet; Kristy Sammet; Miles King; Melissa Fogle 28 Sea Reed Charters: Clarence Reed; Charlie Thompson; Bill Fellows; Dick Taylor; Gene Taylor 29 Jason & the Tarpon Knots: Jason Smith; Zane Smith; Chris Abeyta; Sam King 30 The Silver Kings: Doug Mallon; Bruce Neill; Tim O’Neill 31 Team Fischer: Ozzie Fischer; Dena Fischer; Dick Rudlaff 32 Team Landry: John Landry; Jeff Cacia; Mike Ranalletta; Bob Ranalletta. 33 AIMS: Marc Nathanson; Ed Hemann; John Santoro; Al Azizi 34 Jim Snooker: James Sanders; David Boyce; Debra Parsley; David Finnegan 35 Sanibel Air & Electric: Bryan Hayes.