Fishing: Caloosa tournament kicks off this weekend in Captiva

Caloosa Catch and Release Tournament

Where: Jensen’s Marina, Captiva Island

Day 1, Friday

Team check-in: 5 to 8 a.m.

Launch: 9 a.m.

Weigh-in: 3 to 5 p.m.

Day 2, Saturday

Team check-in: 5 to 8 a.m.

Launch: 9 a.m.

Weigh-in: 3 to 5 p.m.

Awards banquet: 7:30 p.m. at Celebration Center of Captiva

Bulls, spotties, rats or channel bass, whatever you prefer to call them, red drum will be the target of choice as anglers hit the water this weekend for the Caloosa Catch and Release Tournament on Captiva Island.

Around 35 teams are expected to compete for nearly $10,000 in prizes in this year's event. According to tournament director and founder Ronald Riley, the field will be comprised of both professional and amateurs.

"We have always held to the standard not to placate just to the professional tournament fishermen," he said. "We try to keep it welcome to everyone. We were the first public tournament in Southwest Florida and the second in the entire state."

It is the chance to mix it up with the pros that has kept Tom Roberts coming back to the tournament for nearly a decade to compete alongside his son Ryan, who will celebrate his 15th birthday while on the water.

"It makes you feel good when you land a really nice fish," Roberts said. "There is never any animosity. It is a good mix and it isn't always the pros that come out on top. (The professional anglers) are always supportive and it is nice to be able to tell stories with them at the end of the day."

The second of the four tournaments, which also includes the Summer Slam and the Caloosa Grand Championship, that make up the Caloosa Tournament Series, the Catch and Release tournament begins Friday at 7 a.m. and runs through the final weigh-in at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The tournament, now in its 23rd year, will culminate with the awards dinner at the Celebration Center of Captiva at 7:30 p.m. One of the most popular aspects of the event is the Redfish Bonanza, which rewards anglers for the biggest catch each day.

The pros also appreciate the mixture of contestants in the tournament.

You are fishing against some of the top competition. but at the same time the tournament is able to include people from all walks off life,” said Capt. Mark Sanders, a two-time winner who has fished the event for 17 years. “This is a serious event but at the same time, we still have fun and are able to relax a little bit more. There is a sense of camaraderie here that makes it one of my favorite tournaments to fish.”

"We always had a fair amount of prize money, but I think what sets us apart from other tournaments is the peripherals that we offer," Riley said. "We try and provide an experience more than just fishing. We want everyone to feel that they got their money's worth for the weekend and walk away with a good experience."

"Quite simply, it is a lot of fun and there is a lot of great people out there. It is a wonderful atmosphere," Roberts said. "I've fished in a lot of tournaments, but this is probably the most fun out of all of them."

"My goal is that everyone walks away with a smile," Riley added.

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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