Five thousand dollars: that’s how much money was raised for The Children’s Burn Foundation last weekend during the Fire Charity Fishing Tournament, hosted at the Bradenton Yacht Club. On top of that, big fish were brought to the scales by familiar tournament winners.
“It was a beautiful weekend and ... a great time was had by all,” said Capt. Erik Nicholson, the event’s founder. “All who attended showed that they are not just part of this community, but part of making it better.”
The tournament was founded four years ago and has raised $25,000 for charity.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the participation of local anglers, and once again Team Braggin’ Rights/Tidy Coast reigned supreme at the scales.
The team consists of Steve Bertran, Mike Watts, Todd Smith and legendary offshore angler Tommy Butler. At the weigh-in, they amazed the crowd with a 244-pound warsaw grouper!
“We fished about 130 miles to the southwest, in 385 feet of water,” said boat owner Steve Bertran. “We released many other big fish, including several giant gag grouper bigger than 30 pounds and two Kitty Mitchell grouper bigger than 20 pounds. Seas were perfect, less than 1 foot the entire tournament.”
Braggin’ Rights/Tidy Coast is no stranger to success, having won this event last year and the DeSoto Fishing Tournament a month later. In total, this makes their ninth local victory.
They totaled 428 points with the warsaw, a sailfish, a 38- and 32-pound snapper and 38-pound Kitty Mitchell grouper.
In the spirit of generosity, the meat of the warsaw was donated to Ocean Harvest Market, which will be processing the fish for the non-profit group Excelsior Education and Training Foundation for children.
Team Buggin Out and Capt. Glenn Gee secured second place in the offshore division. They brought home an impressive 94-pound warsaw, 37-pound grouper, 21- and 17-pound blackfin tuna and two red snapper at 17 and 18 pounds, for a 409-point total.
With 396 points, team Jumbo Shrimp and Capt. Paul Christie rounded out the offshore division. They landed a swordfish, 30-pound dolphin, 21-pound blackfin, 56-pound cubera snapper and two more snapper at 31 and 13 pounds.
A team consisting of East Manatee Fire Rescue firefighters claimed victory in the inshore division. Team MY ELS and Capt. Ryan Taylor, Kyle Taylor, Brian Mathey and Dave Boqen totaled 359 points. Their catch included a 35- and 32-inch snook, 35-inch redfish, two 24-inch trout and a tarpon.
Only two points behind, team Suncoast Fishing Charters and Capt. Billy Allstrom took home second place. Their catch consisted of a 35-inch snook, 28- and 24-inch trout, 35- and 34-inch redfish and a tarpon.
In third place was Team Black Betty and Capt. Scott Howell. They landed a huge 41-inch redfish, 30-inch redfish, 33- and 31-inch snook and two trout at 22 and 20 inches, totaling 333 points.
Next year’s Firefighters Tournament will be back to benefit a great cause, with the date set at the weekend before Father’s Day. For more information, check the website www.firecharityfishing.com.
The 15th annual DeSoto Fishing Tournament will be the next up for local anglers. The event will be held July 8-10. For more information, visit the DeSoto tournament website, www.desotofishing.com.
See photos with this story at Bradenton.com.