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Limited number of slots left for Invitational Redfish Challenge
August 8, 2018

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Spots are running out to sign up for an annual fishing tournament to benefit two non-profit organizations this year that focus on water quality and marine resource conservation.

The Flats Foundation will host its 14th Annual The Flats Foundation Invitational Redfish Challenge from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 at South Seas Island Resort. Presented by Advanced Roofing and Sheet Metal and A/C Joe Heating and Cooling, the proceeds will be divided equally between Captains for Clean Water and the Coastal Conservation Association.

Joe McNall, chair of the foundation, explained that the tourney was originally founded to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, later serving as a fundraiser for area youth and schools.

"Now, we have a bigger problem with the waters and waterways," he said, referencing the ongoing algae blooms that are impacting water quality. "All of us are in Southwest Florida because we love the sand, beaches, sunshine. Due to this severe problem we have right now, the waters are in bad shape."

McNall noted that 100 percent of the proceeds are going to the two non-profits.

Captains for Clean Water advocates for the elimination of harmful large-scale Lake Okeechobee discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River estuaries by restoring the natural flow of Lake Okeechobee water south into the Everglades and Florida Bay, the organization's website reports.

With 17 state chapters spanning the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic seaboard and Pacific Northwest, the purpose of the Coastal Conservation Association is to advise and educate the public on conservation of marine resources. Its objective is to conserve, promote and enhance the present and future availability of coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public, according to its website.

The tournament is open to 70 boats or teams, with one to four anglers per boat.

"Last year, we had 68 boats," McNall said.

As of Aug. 2, more than half of the spots had been taken.

"Time is of the essence right now," he said. "Once we hit our max boats, the entries are closed and that's it for the year."

The teams are looking to hook two redfish, two snook and two trout.

"It's going to be (based on) total inches," McNall said of the winners.

For the first time this year, the tourney will be catch and release.

"So we don't put any stress on the fish," he said.

The first place team will win $7,000, the second place team will earn $3,500 and the third place team will receive $500. In addition, the team to comes in at 13th place will go home with its own $500.

The cost is $300 per angler if registered before Aug. 15; afterward, the cost is $350 each.

The three-day event will kick off with the captain's meeting on Aug. 30 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Hooters, at 3120 Del Prado Blvd. S., Cape Coral. There will be an open bar and food provided.

"We go over the rules and get their team number ready for the Saturday morning check-in," McNall said, adding that there will 10 items up for raffle to raise additional funds for the organizations.

"It's a smorgasbord of different things, but it's usually fishing related," he said. "We also have a special raffle. We'll be raffling off some handguns and rifles."

On Aug. 31, there will be a hospitality social from 3 to 7 p.m. in the Cone Room at South Seas Island Resort, where the teams can also check in. There will be a pig roast, live music, open bar and more.

Along with 10 more raffle items up for grabs, plus more guns, it will be the first opportunity people have to register for the silent auction. There will be approximately 100 to 150 items on the list.

"It's all going to be on a smartphone app or even a tablet at the event," he said of bidding.

"The silent auction is anything from a dinner party at your home by our private chef for 10, to trips," McNall added. "We've had Yeti cooler packages, lots of nautical and fish art, custom jewelry."

The tournament will begin on Sept. 1 at 7:30 a.m. with a shotgun start.

The teams will have until the weigh-in at 4 p.m. to catch fish.

The event will wrap up with the awards dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the Captiva Conference Center. The evening will feature dinner, an open bar, live music, awards presentation, and silent and live auction.

For non-anglers, the tickets are $100 per person or $1,200 for a VIP table for up to 10 people.

There will be an estimated 25 to 30 items available for the live auction.

"We have some amazing trips - the Bahamas, Costa Rica, houses in Key West for a week," he said. "Lots of fishing charters, offshore stuff and inshore stuff. We raffle off boat trailers."

"We have a pretty amazing list of items," McNall added.

In addition, two utility vehicles with a combined value of $14,000 will be raffled off.

"We have 250 tickets to win his and hers gas-powered side-by-side utility vehicles," he said.

The raffle tickets cost $100 each, but the winner will take home both vehicles. Also, anyone who purchases two raffle tickets receives a free ticket to the awards dinner, including the open bar.

The tickets are on sale now at www.theflatsfoundation.org or 239-699-8436.

"They go fast," McNall said.

He encouraged the community to support the tournament.

"At the end of the day, we all need to get together and raise some money to help these two great charities help us clean our waters up," McNall said. "Whether you're a weekend fisherman or a charter captain, everybody should get out and support this."

For more information or to register, visit www.theflatsfoundation.org or call 239-699-8436.

South Seas Island Resort is at 5400 Plantation Road, Captiva.

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