Twenty-nine anglers participated in the Thomas W. Mawer Memorial Battle of Matlacha Fishing Tournament Saturday afternoon at the Olde Fish House Marina, which benefited Wounded Warrior Anglers of America Inc.
Victoria Wood claimed a $1,000 prize during the tournament for catching the trash can slam, which was 55 1/2 total inches.
"It was great," she said of the tournament.
Olde Fish House Marina Operating Manager Lisa Dence with veteran Jeff Fantin, who caught the largest sheepshead, earning him $500 and the largest trash can slam, for which he received a fishing rod, during the Thomas W. Mawer Memorial Battle of Matlacha Fishing Tournament Saturday afternoon, along with Wounded Warrior Anglers of America Inc. founder Judy Souders.
Wood had the opportunity to fish with a professional captain, who taught her everything she knows about fishing.
The tournament was fun for Wood because, she said, there were a lot of different fish to catch.
She was also attracted to the event because it was a catch -and-release photo tournament.
"You can put them right back where they live," Wood said of why she likes the photo tournament.
She is hoping to fish the next tournament if it is the same type of event.
The other winners of the tournament included Drew Cochran, who caught an 11 1/2-inch mangrove snapper; Jeff Fantin, who caught the largest sheepshead, 16 1/4 inches, as well as catching the largest trash can slam of 44 1/2 inches as a veteran; and Carmen Driscoll, who caught the largest Spanish mackerel at 20 5/8 inches.
"We took the time to plan it and kept it simple," Wounded Warrior Anglers of America founder David Souders said of the tournament. "I think everyone had a good time."
He described the day to be a crazy, fun tournament. Souders said the tournament was more about fund-raising, getting together and having a good time.
"Fishing was a benefit," he said.
The money raised during the fishing tournament will help cover the costs of taking wounded warriors out on the water for a day of fishing.
"We know every aspect of where it's going," Souders said of the money that was raised Saturday afternoon.
The Wounded Warrior Anglers of America Inc., a 501c3 organization, was founded in 2012 by Souders and his wife, Judy. Its mission "is to help rehabilitate the mind, body and soul of all service members who have been injured, wounded or disabled in the line of duty no matter what their era of service."
Almost every weekend, Souders treats one or two wounded warriors to a fishing trip. So far this year, he has taken approximately 100 wounded warriors out on the water for a day of fishing.
The camaraderie, as well as the ability to be around others who have gone through the same situation, is what makes the fishing trips special for all those involved.
The couple wants to thank Kevin Santos, Nancy Durham, weigh master Micky Franklin, weigh master John Lynch, Lisa Dence and her crew at the Olde Fish House Marina, Antoine LaChapelle, Erin Brophy and all the anglers who participated in the event.
David said he wants to also thank David Dean, who was instrumental in guiding them with their first fishing tournament.
Judy said she has a strong appreciation for the support everyone involved from the beginning to the end provided.
"Thanks to Meghan and the Pine Island Eagle," she said. "The support you guys have given us is amazing."
The next fishing tournament for the Wounded Warrior Anglers will be Memorial Day weekend.
Tickets are still on sale for the 18-foot Nautic Star, 1810 Nautic Bay boat, which includes a 90-horsepower, four-stroke Yamaha with a magic tilt trailer, courtesy of Fort Myers Marine.
Raffle tickets are $20 a piece and can be purchased at the Olde Fish House Marina or by calling Judy at 423-620-9104.
"Tickets are starting to move fairly quickly," David said. "Don't miss out."
If all of the tickets are sold before Memorial Day, the winner will be announced beforehand.