The 10th annual Fillet and Release fishing tournament, raising funds for Hope Hospice, will take place Saturday, Sept. 20, with Matanzas Resort home base, at 414 Crescent St. Teams are still welcome to sign up, with a cash pay out of $11,940 up for grabs.
"We currently have 40 teams pre-registered, and anticipating approximately 100 to participate," said Amy Andrew, lead coordinator of the annual tournament. "Many wait to pay at the Captains meeting, which is their last chance to sign up, Friday, Sept. 19, at 6:30 p.m., at Bahama Breeze, South Fort Myers."
As tournament earnings go higher and higher the more teams participate, Amy said if 100 teams were to fish in the tournament, the first-place cash prize can go as high as $16,000.
The 10th annual Fillet and Release fishing tournament for Hope Hospice hits the waves Saturday. All anglers are welcome to join, and everyone is welcome to stop by the after-party and BBQ dinner, full of raffles, prizes, live DJ spinning some tracks and much more.
"Last year, first place got $13,000 the more that participate, the higher the prize," Amy said. "The entire tournament just started out as a closed competition between some friends, and it has blossomed into a great event that attracts anglers from all over."
The Fillet and Release is all about catching snook and redfish, with all rules and regs abiding by the FWC. Only the largest of each will be weighed for each team (with the others released), and Amy said if your catch is able to swim away after weigh-in, teams will get a quarter-pound reward bonus.
Prizes will also be awarded for first through fourth place for each, as well as prizes for the lady angler with the largest redfish; the smallest legal-sized redfish; and a mystery fish, which will be announced at the Captain's Meeting Friday.
"Well also have the Calcutta, which is a side bet. Anglers don't have to participate in that, but if they do, it's $50, and the angler that catches the biggest red gets the whole pot. Last year, the pot was about $4,000," Amy said.
Even if the anglers don't catch anything but some wind in the hair that day, all are invited to the weigh-in, awards ceremony, dinner and after-party at Matanzas after, with a new and very special prize that all participants have a chance to win.
"We're kicking off the Getting Lucky at Fillet and Release pot this year,"?Amy stated. "All participating teams gets to place their team number in a hat. If they're present at the weigh-in, they'll win $500 just for participating, and must be present to win. We want all of our anglers to stay for the after-party, which is just as big of an event as the tournament, itself."
All are welcome to join in for the dinner and after-party, which will feature lots of raffles donated by local businesses and a buffet spread of the talented Chef Dave Chetwin, with the main focus on freshly caught grouper and shrimp, along with all the sides and trimmings, for $10 a plate, with all proceeds going to Hope Hospice.
DJ Gentry Thomas will be spinning tracks all evening long, keeping the party upbeat and energetic, and be sure to enjoy a couple of Jell-o shots, as Amy plans to have 3,000 of them served at the party that night.
The scale opens at 1:30 that afternoon for weigh-ins; anglers must be back at the dock no later than 3. The party kicks off at 3 going until 8 p.m., with the buffet kicking off at 4:30 and awards ceremony taking place at 5:30.
"This is the sixth year with Matanzas and thank God for Matanzas that's all I have to say," Amy eagerly stated. "They say 'Our house is your house' when it comes to the event literally anything I need. They are so accommodating and helpful, and I am so grateful for their hospitality."
Hope Hospice has been the benefactor of Amy's Fillet and Release tournaments since the beginning.
"Every year I organize a fishing tournament to raise money for Hope Hospice, a wonderful organization that has taken care of many families, including my own," she said. "For those whom have experienced Hope Hospice, they know how wonderful the organization truly is. They do such wonderful things for the community and are just amazing. I don't know what I?would have done without them. Many just think Hope Hospice has to do with taking care of those about to pass away, but they do so much more grief counseling, rehabilitation services, special services for the community. It is just a wonderful organization."
For those ready to get their bait in the water, the cost to participate in the 10th annual Fillet and Release tournament is $250 per team of up to four anglers per boat. Fishing is from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
All funds raised that day go toward the Hope Hospice organization. If interested in making a donation, cash, check and credit cards may be accepted the day of the tournament, and may be made out directly to "Hope Hospice" or "Fillet and Release for Hope Hospice."
For further information, or to register for the annual fishing tournament, email AmyAndrew7@gmail.com or visit FilletAndRelease4hospice.com.
Come February, Amy will be back to organizing the 2015 tournament. If interested in donating for next year, or to lend support as a volunteer, to make a donation, or to place a sponsorship or team in the competition, feel free to get in touch with her anytime.