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Annual children’s fishing tournament this Saturday

By Staff | Jun 24, 2020

More than 100 children will be expected at this Saturday’s annual fishing tournament on the public fishing pier and docks outside Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Cafe and Tiki Bar.

The tournament, which goes back decades to when it was a Fourth of July fishing contest, has been presented the past 28 years by the Ostego Bay Foundation Marine Science Center.

The free contest is open to children ages 3-15, said Ostego Bay Foundation Marine Science Center President Joanne Semmer. There will be prizes, including trophies for those who catch the most fish, the longest fish, heaviest fish and for the first fish caught. An average of about 120 children enter every year, she said.

“Everything is free,” Semmer said. Entrants are required to bring their own fishing poles. There will be bait provided to those who don’t have it, as well as lunch with hot dogs and watermelon. If a line or hook breaks, there will be volunteers with tackle boxes to help replace them. Sanibel Seafood is expected to donate the bait. The hot dogs will be courtesy of Pete’s Time Out with Mom’s Restaurant providing the watermelon.

The contest will be a catch and release tournament. All of the catches will be measured and weighed and quickly returned to the water. Semmer said some catches may be transferred to the Ostego Bay Foundation Marine Science Center to be placed in the tanks. In the past, the catches have ranged from being largely snappers to catfish, grouper and even an occasional shark or tarpon. The Tarpon Hunters Club will be roaming around and providing educational tips on safe and sustainable fishing.

“Sometimes manatees and dolphins come by,” Semmer said. “It’s just wonderful.”

Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. with the contest kicking off at 9 a.m. and running through noon. Lunch will be served afterwards.

Bill Semmer will shoot off a small cannon to start the event and mark its ending. Following the fishing tournament, there will also be a water gun fight with buckets of water supplied by the organizers. The water guns are donated by First Citizens Bank.

“It’s a lot of fun. You never know from year to year what is going to happen,” Ms. Semmer said. “It’s good, clean community fun.”