The "fin"tastic, fun-filled weekend of the Redfish Cup & Festival returns to Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands May 1 - 3.
Produced for ESPN2, the Redfish Cup is recognized as the nation's premier saltwater fishing tournament, organizers said. The first of four tournaments casts off from Laishley Park Municipal Marina in Punta Gorda, Fla., with 60 invited teams from all over the South, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North and South Carolina and Texas. (Note to media: Schedule attached.)
"With the best payouts and even better anglers, the competition intensifies and top anglers are rewarded for their talent, hard work and a bit of luck," said the Redfish Cup general manager Steve Levi in a prepared statement.
A grand prize of $40,000 will be awarded with an additional $146,000 in cash awaiting those who compete in the three-day competition. Last year's winners, Mark Sepe from Deland and Andrew Bostick from Marco Island, took home top honors with a first-day total weigh-in of 14.57 pounds. The angler teams will also earn points based on each tournament placement that will help them advance to the season-ending Redfish Cup Championship and stay in the running for the Academy Sports + Outdoors Team of the Year race presented by Crocs. Weigh-ins will take place daily at 3 p.m.
Live online coverage will be featured on RedfishCup.com and ESPNOutdoors.com and will be broadcast on ESPN2 Saturday, July 4 at 8:30 a.m.
When anglers are fishing the area's bountiful waters, the Festival will be bringing two days of festivities with a variety of vendor booths and food tantalizing every palate. Activities include:
- The Net Gains Youth Clinic, a community-focused initiative that enables local youth, ages 7 and older, to learn from the best saltwater anglers in the world, returns for a second year on Thursday, April 30 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the festival grounds at Laishley Park. This free fishing and conservation clinic for local Scouts and other area youth will be taught by the Redfish Cup pros themselves. Young fishing fans will learn everything from knot-tying to casting techniques to conservation principles, have photos taken with a pro and take home fun fishing treats. To participate in Net Gains, R.S.V.P. to Hank Weldon at 770/955.1300, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- With prizes for "Fastest", "Best Decorated" or "Most Dramatic Sinking," the Charlotte County Young Professionals Cardboard Boat Race is a tragic-comedic race to see which stays afloat the longest. Homemade boats constructed of cardboard, tape and glue compete in a 150-yard paddle to the finish. To enter a craft, visit www.ccypboatrace.com.
- Cindee Murphy of Pies & Plates and Maralee Mc Gowen with Harbor Seafood Meats and More will be "Cooking up Something Fishy" with redfish cooking demonstrations on Friday, May 1, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Pies & Plates, 2310 Tamiami Trail, Suite 3117, Punta Gorda. Learn how to prepare Redfish Court Bouillon, Redfish on the Half Shell and Pan Sauted Redfish with Tropical Salsa. The fee to participate is $20 per person, per class and reservations can be made by calling 941/505.7437 and additional information can be found at www.piesandplates.com. Saturday afternoon there will be a free cooking demonstration featuring three Florida seafood dishes between noon and 1 p.m. at Laishley Park. Learn how to prepare a brunch, lunch and dinner item.
- The crowd-favorite Splash Dogs show returns with water-loving canines leaping into a dock-side pool. Any athletic dog can enter the competition either on site or at www.splashdogs.com.
- Again this year, the "Relatively Redfish" art competition and sale, sponsored by Centennial Bank, is expected to feature more than 30 artists with cash prizes being awarded and Lake & Bay Boats will be offering free test-drives from Laishley Park Marina.
This year the Redfish Cup & Festival will be giving back to the community with a live auction benefiting Still Waters Home, a rescue operation assisting needy children under the auspices of Restoration Roads Ministry, Inc., and the Good Samaritans of Charlotte County will be collecting non-perishable food items for their food pantry. A $1 donation is being accepted at the festival entrance with a portion benefiting Still Waters Home.
Junior anglers from the annual Kids Cup competition sponsored by Water Life Magazine will also participate in the Redfish Cup as five youngsters ages 10-15 will pair with a professional team and fish for the top prize on Sunday. Kids will weigh in their fish on the big Redfish stage and winners will be announced at 1:30 p.m. Last year, 124 participants from the Southeast and Florida traveled to Punta Gorda for the Kids Cup competition.
"The dynamics of combining a nationally-recognized fishing tournament with community and visitor enthusiasm have made Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands the only permanent stop on the Redfish Cup circuit," said Becky Bovell, Director of the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, the main local sponsor of the event. Last year the event attracted more than 7,500 visitors and residents.
In addition to the Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau, local sponsors of the Redfish Festival are: City of Punta Gorda; Mosaic Fertilizer; Herald-Tribune Media Group; Peace River Distributing; Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce; Don Gasgarth's Charlotte County Ford; TEAM Punta Gorda; Centennial Bank; First Financial Services; Big Geroy's BBQ; River City Grill; Direct Air; Caddy Carts; Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce; Punta Gorda Rent-All; Busey Bank; Charlotte County Young Professionals; Marina Park, LLC; Visual Arts Center; Sea Grape Artists Gallery; Arts & Humanities Council; and Vicki Glynn Gallery.
Additional information on the Redfish Cup Tournament and Festival can be found by visiting CharlotteHarborTravel.com and RedfishCup.com
Source: Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau