The 15th Annual Pine Island Elementary Fishing Tournament & Derby, sponsored by the Matlacha Hookers, held Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Olde Fish House Marina in Matlacha, was a huge success.
All day long there were dozens of young people lining the docks and although the Hookers expected "maybe 100 kids" by the end of the day 130 kids went fishing.
The weather was sunny and about 75 degrees.
Mathew Bollen, with his mother Amy Bollen, show off one of his catches Sunday.
"As good as it gets," Hooker Sandy Kerr said. "We just got started about two hours ago and the kids have already caught quite a few fish. The turnout has been excellent and donations are great. We even have a fund where if a child doesn't have a sponsor, no one gets turned away. We give them everything they need to fish."
Fourth and 5th graders began fishing at 8 a.m. and continued until 10 a.m. Next up were the 2nd and 3rd graders from 10-11:15 a.m. Finally K thru 1st graders from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Although she didn't know it at the time, Ashley Young, fishing with her mother, Jackie Goldman, won first prize in the Pinfish Division with a 1.5-pound catfish. Ashley also won the "Grand Catch."
Fishing tournament winners:
(grades 4 & 5)
First - Jacob Bollen
Second - Christopher Terry
Third - Dalton Honcharenko
(grades 2 & 3)
First - Ashlee Young
Second - Caden Byrd
Third - Kylee Lightner
(grades K & 1)
First - Kaylynn Marshall
Second - Abigail Anderson
Third - Samantha Sabella
Mathew Bollen, fishing with his mother, Amy, was very excited to catch a catfish.
"We've had more sponsors than ever before," Kerr said. "All of the food for the kids has been donated, the bikes, helmets and so much more."
Music ranged from country, with Whiskey Throttle, to alternative rock with Aimee Lynn Band. Also performing were the Grayson Rogers Band, Strange Arrangemen, and Trailer Park Barbie and Friends.
The event included face painting, T-shirt painting, lots of craft projects and of course fishing trophies.
This year's sponsors and contributors included: Elmquist Eye Group, Attorney Mel Brinson, Stonegate Bank, Wet Life Paddleboards, Attorney Timothy Bruehl, Olde Fish House Marina, Exc. Travel & Incentives, Karen Garside, JP Sports, Bealls, Steve Phanco, Rob Mazzoli, South Park Figures /Andy Forsyth, Berts Bar, Seven Seas, Traders Hitching Post, Wild Child Gallery, Woody's, Total Payroll, Matlacha Mariners, Miceli's Restaurant, Shallow Bait, Little Lilly's Deli, Matlacha Hookers, Total Payroll, Holloway & Chumbler Dental.
"This is our 15th year of this one event and as you know this isn't our only event," Kerr said. "We do numerous events all year long. Next month we help the Mariners do their Blues Festival, and then the Afternoon Delights and on and on. And the main focus is the kids. As the Matlacha Hookers have said so perfectly all these years... 'It's all about the kids.'"