Fishing tournaments are a great avenue for anglers to get together and enjoy family, friends and fun. Sometimes they attract teams with big prizes and payouts, while other events simply draw a crowd because they occur during epic migrations of highly prized game fish. The common goal among a majority of fishing tournaments is to support charitable causes and further reinforce efforts to better the community.
Competition often brings out the best in anglers, with fishing tournaments providing incredible support to communities and charities statewide. Benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County, The Michael Shields Memorial Inshore Open is one of the largest inshore tournaments on the Treasure Coast. In it’s fourth year and in remembrance of the event’s namesake, The Michael Shields Open is a catch and release competition for anglers of all ages and skill levels. What makes this event special is that it’s all about community involvement. While individual teams can enter, many of the area’s top inshore guides volunteer their time to help put kids and corporate sponsors on big fish.
Bringing family and friends together for a memorable day on the water while supporting great causes is what it’s all about.
Based out of River Palm Cottages in Jensen Beach, a total of 166 anglers participated in the 2012 event. The Open follows a catch and release format, with separate categories for tarpon, trout, snook and redfish. The two-day event started with a festive Captain’s Party on Friday evening, with anglers permitted to start fishing immediately after. Captains were provided with an official measuring device and scoring card that had to be submitted by 3:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. While anglers were busy scouting out prime stretches of fishy water on Saturday, back at River Palm Cottages the BBQ and Kids Fishing Clinic were just getting started.
For anglers participating in the tournament there were no restrictions as to fishing locations, or means of getting there. Anglers were able to fish from a boat, shore, or anything in between as they targeted the region’s most popular game fish. Each catch was measured for points, with snook caught on natural bait awarded two points per inch. Tarpon, redfish and trout caught on natural bait were awarded one point per inch. Additional points were awarded for catches on artificial baits and each team could score up to three fish per species.
“This year’s tournament was the most successful tournament we’ve ever had. We had fun, caught fish and most importantly raised money for the kids! Seeing their faces at the fishing clinic was priceless! We hope to make a few fishermen, and women, out of them,” said Jade Smith, who chaired this year’s event.
In its four year history the tournament has raised over $225,000 in the name of Michael Shields, who died at the age of 23 after a tough battle with bone cancer. Most of the funds are allocated to membership scholarships, ensuring that children and teens who wish to attend the Boys & Girls Clubs of Martin County can do so, regardless of their family’s financial status. Funding also supports other critical needs including field trips, club T-shirts, and a comprehensive teen program known as The Club.
“It has truly been an honor to remember my friend Michael Shields by bringing anglers, their families and the kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs together to enjoy a wonderful day on the water at River Palm Cottages, ” said Co-Chair Shaun Plymale.
After Saturday’s competition the top trout award was given to Pushing Water Charters, led by Captain Brian Nelli. Top redfish honors were awarded to team Tequesta Insurance, guided by Captain Mike Holliday. Top snook was won by team KC8, with a total of 37.5 inches. Top Junior Angler, Alex Weider, also took top honors in the tarpon division landing a solid 61 inch tarpon. USCG Frank Duffy was given the Hero Award, while Captain John Meskauskas took home Top Guide honors.
Bringing family and friends together for a memorable day on the water while supporting great causes is what it’s all about. Visit fishforthekids.org for complete results and info on how to participate in next year’s event.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (bgca.org) has enabled young people, especially those who need clubs most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. Today, some 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve more than 4.2 million adolescents through club membership and community outreach. Key programs emphasize leadership development, education and career exploration, community service, technology training, financial literacy, health and life skills, the arts, sports, fitness and recreation, and family outreach.
For volunteering their time and effort to benefit and increase awareness we wanted to highlight the captains who participated in the 2012 Michael Shields Memorial Open.
- Captain Melly Buckley
- Captain Charlie Conner
- Captain Mike Conner
- Captain Mark Dravo
- Captain Jonathan Earhart
- Captain George Gozdz
- Captain Mike Holliday
- Captain Jeremy Neff
- Captain Brian Nelli
- Captain Mark Nichols
- Captain Hal Rosenblatt
- Captain Greg Snyder
- Captain Ray Winters
- Captain John Young
- Captain Ed Zyak
- Captain Mike Croke
- Captain Joe Nolan
- Captain John Meskauskas
- Captain Greg Scherer
- Captain Andy Tacker