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Vol 5 No. 34 - May 11, 2005

Community Center Fishing Tournament is on!

By Rusty Chinnis

Island residents and local anglers are eagerly anticipating the Community’s Center’s fishing tournament on Father’s Day weekend. Over the years, the original tournament raised over $90,000 for the Anna Maria Island Community Center children's sports programs. The original event was the brain child of Island residents Bill and Jennifer Lowman. Now under the auspices of Island Realtor Steve Bark, this year’s tournament will continue the tradition with all net proceeds going to children’s sports programs.

I personally fish very few tournaments, but some are so well run and do such good work that I wouldn’t miss them. The ones I do fish lack big money prizes and benefit worthy programs and conservation. This tournament is one of those special events. Featuring an inshore as well as offshore and children’s divisions, contestants will vie for thousands of dollars in prizes. That’s a big difference from offering cash. Unfortunately, cash prizes seem to attract an element to the tournament trail that ruins the good times and good deeds associated with these events.

The tournament kicks off with a captain’s meeting on Friday, June 17, at 5:30 p.m. and features a Taste of the Island menu. The tournament will begin at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, June 18. The awards banquet on Sunday will include entertainment by Dr. Dave, a fish fry beginning at noon and loads of raffle and door prizes. Food will be provided by the Chiles Group of restaurants, so bring a good appetite! Both events will be held at the AMI Community Center.

This is a boat tournament and the registration will be closed after 175 teams have signed up. The first 50 entries will receive a 7-foot Start Backwater fishing rod. There will be a permanent trophy located at the Community Center as well as take home trophies for all 1st, 2nd and 3rd place division winners.

Contestant catches will be scored on a combination of points per fish and points per inch. For example a snook will score 25 points per fish and 2 points per inch. Six fish may be weighed in. The team with the most points will be declared the winner.

Snook, redfish, trout, tarpon and flounder must be released alive at the time they are caught. Cameras and measuring boards will be provided to each boat fishing in the inshore division. Photos must have the fish, the measuring board, and the team’s official registration number. No dead fish will be accepted for weigh-in in the Inshore Division. All fish must be at least minimum legal size.

On Saturday, each team must check-in with a tournament boat before beginning fishing. Official boats will be located at Bean Point and Longboat Key. Visual sighting of the team’s assigned number as well as voice or radio contact must be made. All teams are required to check-in between 6:30 A.M. and 8:30 A.M. Any team not able to check-in by 8:30 A.M. must contact the Committee to be able to compete. The official designated tournament radio channel is 72.

Two official weigh-in stations will be open from 4 P.M. until 8:30 P.M. on Saturday, June 18, 2005. The weigh-in stations are at the Anna Maria City Pier on the north end of Anna Maria Island, and the Mar Vista Restaurant at the north end of Longboat Key. Teams must show official Tournament registration (boat) numbers when weighing the fish. All boats must be in the water to weigh-in fish. All boats must be at a weigh station and recognized by the weigh master by 8:30 p.m. The Captains of each boat must sign the official weigh-in sheet accepting the weight of his team’s catch. A complete listing of all rules and regulations will be provided with each registration and will be covered at the Captain’s meeting prior to the tournament.

The "Fishing the Islands Tournament" offers anglers a chance to fish a well organized event while having fun and raising money for a good cause. I look forward to seeing you there. If you have any questions please contact Steve Bark 778-5900 or Bill Lowman 779-2838.

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