By Larry Scharnberger
Special to the Eagle
On Saturday, Sept. 22, the Matlacha Mariners are having their annual Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry, just for the fun of it. Past, present and future Mariners are welcome. Good fun, good food, good cause.
The Mariners is a 501 c(3) non profit men's organization devoted to supporting the charities that help Pine Islanders in need. They also provide scholarships to college students who are residents of Pine Island and many other important causes.
To fund these worthy causes the Mariners host several fund raisers throughout the year.
Coming up in a few months on Nov. 17, is the much anticipated Southwest Florida Blues Festival featuring national touring and Grammy winning Blues artists from around the country, as well as, local favorites.
In February of next year is the ever popular Seafood Festival and Car show. A great opportunity to sample a variety of the best local seafood the area has to offer, see the amazing award winning show and custom cars and enjoy a day full of live music, crafts and entertainment.
Regrettably, these two events have out grown their size and attendance to be held on Pine Island, as they were for many years. Rather than discontinue the funding efforts, the events have been moved to the German American Club property, a short distance off the island. The Mariners are still hoping someone will come forward and offer a large parcel of property on the island suitable to host these and other events for the benefit of Pine Island so the community resumes participating in helping itself.
The third and probably the most famous of all events hosted by the Mariners is the annual Mullet Tossing Championship. This classic, over 20-year-old event, will also be held next February at the Matlacha Park.
Here contestants, ranging in age categories' from 5 to 65 + throw (an already dead) mullet as far as they can before a cheering crowd of amazed fans and onlookers. The winners in each category (men and women) win cash and other prizes. In case you are wondering, the mullet missiles are recycled as bait in crab traps where they were headed but for the detour to the Throwing Championship on the way.
The Fishing Tournament and Fish Fry is the only event that is not officially a "fund" raiser. Rather it is a "fun" raiser for the Mariners and their guests to get together and have some fun in appreciation for all they do for the island throughout the year. Last years event was a great success. Basically, you can start fishing when ever and wherever you want as long as you wind up at Bert's Bar between 12:30 and 1 p.m. for the weigh in and Fish Fry.
Actually, the weigh in and filleting is at Seven Seas Bait and Tackle across the street (additional tie up there as well). We are keeping and serving all legal fish caught.
The entry fee is a mere $20, which includes the fish fry lunch at Bert's (beverages extra) a lot of laughs and stories and prizes to the winners with gifts to every paid entry.
Winning categories are the
- The longest trout;
- The heaviest (legal) red;
- The largest of any species, legal or otherwise. (Non legal can be verified by a pre release photo);
- The most fish caught (must be documented by a list describing the kind of fish, legal or otherwise.) Baitfish, anything caught in a net, ladyfish, cat fish and the like do not count.
- The most unusual fish (to be determined by the judge.)
- Triple header - a legal size trout, redfish and snook (since snook is catch and release, a photo or the honor system will suffice)
Everyone, (males only) is welcome whether you are a current member of the Matlacha Mariner's or not. In fact, if you would like to join or re-join, the entry fee to the tournament, if you choose, can also go toward a paid in full membership to the Matlacha Mariners for 2013. It is a fun and casual way to make some new friends or re acquaint with old ones.
All entries must be in by Friday Sept. 21, and can be obtained at Traders Hitching Post, Seven Seas Bait, and Tackle in Matlacha or call Larry Scharnberger at 239 313-0951.