Fishing: Gene Doyle tournament kicks off Saturday

Gene Doyle tournament schedule

Saturday

7 a.m.: Start of tournament

2:30 p.m.: Final weigh-in

7 p.m.: Score posting at Sunshine Ace Hardware

Sunday

7 a.m.: Start of tournament

2:30 p.m.: Final weigh-in

6 p.m.: Awards banquet at Pelican Bay Club

South Florida anglers will take a swing at an inshore grand slam for charity as the Gene Doyle Tournament kicks off this weekend.

Now in its 15th year, the popular catch and release tournament targets snook, redfish and sea trout.

The tournament’s namesake, Gene Doyle, was a native of Naples who died in a car accident at the age of 20. The tournament serves as a memorial to Doyle’s adventurous spirit. Proceeds go toward a scholarship fund that helps other free-spirited high school student in Collier County to continue Gene’s tradition of exploration and adventure.

“It’s been amazing,” Gene’s mother, Kris Doyle, said of the continuing popularity of the event. “Every year I wonder how much longer we can do this and whether this will be the last year but then every year it has been filled. I’m so grateful to the community for the support of all this because it really takes a community to make something like this happen.”

“It’s all about fun and giving back to the community,” tournament director Sean Morton said.

Between 80 and 90 anglers are separated into four divisions with top prizes going to teams with the most points based on total length of the top four fish for each category. Prizes will also be given to the overall largest fish and the most unusual catch. There is also a reward for a “trash can slam,” which consists of catching a jack crevalle, a ladyfish and a hardhead catfish — all considered to be inedible — in a single day.

While it remains competitive, the tournament has taken on a family friendly atmosphere over the years.

“I’m not sure it was intentional but it just sort of happened that way,” said Robin Doyle, Gene’s father. “A lot families started coming and fishing together and it has just sort of stayed that way.”

“I like the idea that the kids are so involved in this,” said tournament committee member Troy Pruitt, who will be teaming up with his 9-year-old daughter Karlie in the tournament. “A lot of the tournament that I fish down here are all about the adults so to see the kids at this age go out there and experience what we do in tournaments with the goal of catching a fish, getting a trophy, it is really special.”

“It’s not a money tournament so you don’t get the big competition,” guide Dave Barber said. “But it’s a great tournament and everyone always has a lot of fun and it does a lot of good for the community.”

One thing that makes the tournament unique is the volunteer guides, who take out 15 local youth who might not otherwise have a chance to go fishing aboard a professional charter.

“It’s a great thing to do for the kids to help them out and show them a good time,” volunteer guide Matt Flores said.

Fishing begins at 7 a.m. Saturday from four local launch sites, and the day’s results will be posted at the Sunshine Ace hardware store in Naples at 7 p.m.

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

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