Youngsters lined the docks around the Olde Fish House Marina property throughout the morning and afternoon Sunday in an effort to catch any assortment of fish that weighed the most to claim a prize.
Eighty-six Pine Island Elementary School students participated in the 14th Annual Pine Island Elementary Fishing Tournament & Derby.
Matlacha Hookers Madam DJ Ruscik said Sunday was a great day.
Nathan Hyde, 10, a fifth grade student at Pine Island Elementary School caught a large snook during the 14th Annual Pine Island Elementary Fishing Tournament & Derby.
"The weather did turn out as promised," she said while looking at the blue sky.
Ruscik said she was also happy to see how many parents attended the event with their children. She said since the event is held to raise funds for Pine Island Elementary School, the Hookers like to keep it family friendly.
The first group of kids, 4th and 5th grade students, cast their lines into the water at 8 a.m. Sunday, which was deemed a success for many youngsters as they walked their fishing rod and fish to the weigh-in station to get the weight of their catch recorded.
The 2nd and 3rd grade students were the second group of kids to fish for an hour and half, before the kindergarten and 1st grade students wrapped up the tournament.
Fourth grader Amber Young, 9, caught a pinfish and a stingray early on in the tournament Sunday. Although the stingray was hard to reel in, the youngster was able to carry it to the weigh-in center still hooked to the pole to be recorded.
This is the third time Amber has participated in the tournament, which she said she enjoys because it allows her to get out in the open and catch fish.
Jackie Goldman, Amber's mother, said she thinks the tournament is a great opportunity for the kids.
"I think it's great for the kids," she said. "All the kids have so much fun a fun family event."
First-timer David Tippins, 12, also participated in the tournament Sunday. He said although he had not caught anything he was still having fun.
David said he goes fishing a lot where he lives and typically catches a lot of fish.
Pine Island Elementary School Principal Robert Mazzoli, who attended the event with his children, had a camera in hand taking pictures of his students and congratulating them when they stopped by to tell him about their latest catch.
"I'm happy to see the kids here because they have a great time," he said.
Mazzoli said as the day goes on the tournament always draws a larger crowd.
"It's a great event," he said. "These ladies work so hard to put it together, it's a wonderful thing."
Mazzoli said he cannot thank the Hookers enough for what they do for the elementary school. He said the Hookers, who have big hearts, care about the kids, school and the community.
"They all care about the community," Mazzoli said.
The adult tournament kicked off at 7 a.m. Sunday morning attracting 23 boats and 59 anglers. Karen Burns, a Matlacha Hooker, said the anglers had to weigh-in by 2 p.m., so they too would have the opportunity to participate in the festivities.
This year the event attracted more adult anglers.
"This is awesome," Burns said.
Team Raymond, Kerry Trotter, Craig Whitaker and Matt Schell, claimed first place for the adult angler tournament.
Ruscik said this is the first year they held a captain's meeting for the adult anglers, which was held Saturday.
"It was very well received, we will definitely do it every year," she said.
Ruscik said the adult anglers help them achieve their goals.
"We could not begin to achieve our goals without the adult fishermen," she said.
J.D. Holloway from the Waterfront Restaurant provided an assortment of free food for the youngsters and a nominal fee for the adults Sunday, which included hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, mullet and sausages.
Ruscik said Holloway never allows a kid to go hungry while fishing at the tournament. She said if they are not full after their first hot dog or hamburger, he will feed them a second serving.
Holloway said he has prepared food for the tournament since its inception. Although this is the last year that one of his kids can participate in the tournament, he said he will continue to come out and provide food for the cause.
Holloway, who was recently named an honorary member of the Matlacha Hookers, helps them out whenever he can.
"It gets me out of the restaurant and it's nice to see everyone," he said.
Holloway said Sunday's event brought out twice as many people as the previous year.
"It's nice to see their faces," he said of the crowd that participated in the event.
In addition to the fishing tournament, the event also featured live entertainment from many bands, many raffles, as well as a silent and Chinese auction and activities for the kids when they were done fishing.
Ruscik said she wanted to thank the businesses that contributed items for the cause. She said they had a lot of new businesses that provided gift cards, among other items, as well as new bands that came out and performed for the first time Sunday.