Vol 6 No. 29 - April 12, 2006

All-release tourney sets the standard
By Rusty Chinnis
sun staff writer

April is tournament time in Florida. The mangroves are in bloom and the lure of spring entices budding anglers and old salts alike to scores of tournaments that proliferate on both coasts of the Sunshine State.

During the last decade, the growing awareness of the vulnerability of fish stocks led some anglers to question the wisdom of so many tournaments. On some days in April and May, local waters are littered with boats as numerous tournaments compete for anglers in surrounding communities.

In 1985, the Tampa Chapter of the Florida Conservation Association (CCA) came up with an all release concept that allowed anglers to compete while conserving critical fisheries. Anglers from around the state fished this novel tournament, including Sarasota’s Captain Rick Grassett. Grassett was so impressed with the tournament that he lobbied his local CCA chapter to start its own all-release tournament.

Ken Kinzie, of Bradenton, caught this redfish during last year’s tournament. The redfish took a DOA jig supplied by the tournament.

While Grassett wasn’t interested in actually running the tournament, his enthusiasm encouraged chapter founders Scott Jerrems, Captain Jonnie Walker, Chris Likens and Lowe Morrison to organize the first Sarasota CCA All Release Tournament in 1995.

During that first tournament, there were 40 participants who measured, photographed, and released snook, redfish and trout. Over the years the tournament grew and expanded as the concept of "no kill" tournaments spread. Grassett now runs the tournament with the help of a host of volunteers.

The 11th annual Sarasota CCA Photo All-Release Challenge will be held on Saturday, April 29, out of the Sarasota Cay Club (formerly the Holiday Inn Airport-Marina), 7150 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. There will be a mandatory angler meeting on Friday evening, April 28.

Anglers will fish for snook, redfish and trout in a catch-photo-release format with lures or flies. Each angler/boat will be provided the use of a Polaroid camera and measuring board. Each angler will receive an identical box of lures or flies (which are the only lures/flies that they may use), a package of film and a scorecard. The fishing area is from Tampa Bay to Charlotte Harbor, including both Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor.

More than 15 plaques and gift certificates will be awarded in the Grand Slam, Angler, Largest Fish, Ladies and Fly Fishing divisions. Cost is $85 per angler ($30 for youth anglers 12 and under)) and also includes a T-shirt, a CCA membership, hors d'oeuvres on Friday evening and awards dinner on Saturday evening. Non-angler meals are available at a cost of $20 for Friday evening and $30 for Saturday evening. The event will also feature an upscale raffle and a silent auction of fishing tackle, equipment, clothing and a guided kayak fishing trip.

I can think of no better way to spend a day than fishing for a worthy cause. Not only will anglers be able to compete against some of the state’s finest anglers, they can do so knowing that all fish will be released to fight again. The cost of the tournament is a moot point as the combination of lure and fly packs, dinner, CCA membership, and T-Shirt make the investment a great deal. Call now to make sure you don’t miss the cut-off! Contact Capt. Rick Grassett, Tournament Co-Director, for more info at (941) 923-7799 or snookfin@aol.com

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