That time of year is here again for the Matlacha Hookers' 14th annual Pine Island Elementary Fishing Tournament & Derby for the youngsters and adults.
"It's all about the kids," D.J. Ruscik, madam of the Matlacha Hookers, said in a prepared statement. "So many people in the community come together to make this happen to help provide educational tools at Pine Island Elementary School."
The efforts of this year's tournament will benefit the Compass Learning Program. Compass Learning is a computer software-based program that allows teachers to build a class, as well as an opportunity to build assignments and assessments for students, which allows them to work on their own individualized learning path.
This year the tournament will be held Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Olde Fish House Marina. The adult fishing tournament, which will begin at 7 a.m. and end promptly at 2 p.m. at the docks, is $50 per person with a boat maximum of four anglers. Children can also fish in the adult tournament for $50.
Advanced registration can be done at Old St. James Marina, Four Winds Marina, Seven Seas Bait & Tackle and the Olde Fish House. The registration fee includes a tournament T-shirt, the eligibility to win prizes, along with the chance to enjoy a fish fry.
The captain's meeting for the adult anglers will be held Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Olde Fish House Marina at 5:30 p.m.
If You Go:
What: 14th Annual Pine Island Elementary
Fishing Tournament & Derby
When: Oct. 14, children 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.;
adults, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Olde Fish House Marina, 4530
Pine Island Road in Matlacha
Registration: Call Karen Burns
at 239-440-3875 before Oct. 10
The prizes for the tournament include $500 for each of the heaviest legal mangrove snappers, redfish and trout, and $1,000 for the heaviest legal slam.
The original weigh master of the event, Phil Russo, will return to the tournament and provide his services again this year. He said he was the weigh master for the first six or seven years of the tournament before he received work out of the area.
It has been at least four years since he has been at the event.
Russo said his excitement about the tournament stems from its constant success.
"I'm excited to get back to it," he said of the Hookers' tournament. "They are a fun group to work with."
Russo said being the weigh master can be challenging, but due to his trade as an inspector, it is manageable. He said his demeanor is to be consistent and treat everybody the same.
"That is the key to it and nobody can challenge you," Russo said.
He went on to say that the Hookers are a fantastic group that are able to help the school kids on the island.
"I am glad to be a part of their event," Russo said.
The children's tournament, which is divided into three age groups, will be held from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Each age group will have the opportunity to fish for 1 1/2 hours.
The cost to sponsor a Pine Island Elementary School student is $30 and a non-Pine Island Elementary School student is $35. That sponsorship includes a fishing rod and reel, bait, games, trophies, face painting, free lunch and two sodas, T-shirt painting and four bike raffles.
The divisions include the sharks (4th-5th grade students), 8-9:30 a.m.; Pinfish (2nd-3rd grade students), 9:45-11:15 a.m.; and Shrimp (kindergarten-1st grade students), 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
J.D. Holloway from the Waterfront Restaurant will provide the lunches for the children.
The event will also include music, a 50/50 raffle, Chinese and silent auctions and a cast net raffle.
For more information about the tournament contact Karen Burns at Karen@palmco.com or 239-440-3875.