Anglers will soon hit the water in Matlacha for the annual Wounded Warrior Anglers fishing tournament to raise funds to further support wounded warriors, caregivers and their children through its various programs.
Wounded Warrior Anglers President and Founder David Souders said their first tournament was held on Veterans Day in 2012. He said the small fundraiser was held to help support the organization.
“The first year we raised about $680 after expenses, which was pretty good,” Souders said of the trashcan slam.
The organization reorganized and decided to hold its only fishing tournament of the year in 2012 with its newly developed original Redfish Poker Fishing Championship themed tournament. Souders said the fishing championship began to encourage families to become involved while leveling the playing field.
The 3rd annual Redfish Shootout, previously known as the Redfish Poker Fishing Championship, will be held Saturday, May 23. The shootout is being held in memory of Spc. Michael Plath.
The tournament will include two redfish, one trout and multiple Calcutta’s.
It is a $350 entrance fee for a team of three anglers for the boat division with $100 for each additional angler. There is a $50 entrance fee per angler for the kayak division.
“I am expecting we are going to have at least 100 boats,” Souders said.
This year, Wounded Warrior Anglers decided to make the shootout its premier tournament with a larger winning pot.
The boat division prizes include $4,000 for first place; $1,750 for second place and $1,000 for third place. The kayak division includes $350 for first place; $150 for second place and 2016 kayak entry for third place.
“We wanted to be up around the Flat Masters and Backwater (tournaments) in payouts because we want to draw in boats,” Souders said. “It doesn’t matter how many boats we have in, we are still paying the same amount.”
He said the idea is to draw in boats to increase the funds from entry fees that will be dispersed into various programs for the organization.
Other prizes include $1,000 for the heaviest slot redfish for a team, which includes a $100 entry fee; $500 for the heaviest trout for a team, which includes a $50 entry fee; $500 for slot redfish with the most spots for a team, which includes a $50 entry fee; $100 for the heaviest slot redfish for ages 16 and younger and $100 for a slot redfish with the most specs for ages 16 and younger.
There are also categories that veterans can enter to win. Those include $250 for the heaviest slot redfish with a $10 entry fee; $250 for the heaviest trout with a $10 entry fee; $250 for a slot redfish with the most spots with a $10 entry fee and $100 for the heaviest trout for ages 16 and younger.
The organization is also seeking sponsors for the tournament. The sponsor levels include The General, the presenting sponsor, for $5,000; The Colonel, the premier sponsor, for $2,500; the Command Sergeant Major, position sponsor, for $1,500; the Sergeant 1st Class, large t-shirt sponsor, for $1,000; The Sergeant, small t-shirt sponsor, for $500; The Private for $250 and the Patriot for $100.
“We are having very good success with sponsors coming aboard,” Souders said, adding that the sponsorships are covering what the organizations payouts are for hosting the tournament.
For information about becoming a sponsor, call Souders at (239) 257-3410, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Souders hopes to raise $40,000 for this year’s tournament.
The annual boat raffle winner will also be announced during the May 23 tournament at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available for the 2015 NauticStar 2110 Sport Bay with 150 horsepower four stroke and magic tilt trailer. Raffle tickets are $20 for one or six for $100.
Wounded Warrior Angler’s mission is accomplished through actively mentoring wounded warriors with fishing therapy and camaraderie in a friendly and peaceful environment that allows warriors to heal while being surrounded by other veterans who understand their mental and physical issues. The organization’s mission also includes actively mentoring caregivers with a relaxing day away at a spa while their warriors are fishing.