Fishermen weigh in for Hibiscus Children’s Center

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — There were no yahoos for Wahoos and even the Dolphin and Kingfish played hard to get, but people were enjoying themselves anyway at the 6th Annual Hibiscus Offshore Big 3 Fishing Tournament.  And, of course it was all for a great cause – the Hibiscus Children’s Center, which serves children in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Okeechobee Counties. The tournament began Friday night with a captain’s meeting and reception at the Fort Pierce Community Center.  Boats departed from the Fort Pierce, St. Lucie and Sebastian Inlets Saturday morning, and the final weigh-in was at the Ft. Pierce City Marina.

“I love watching the weigh-in,” said volunteer Stacey Barnett.  “The junior anglers always get so excited.  It’s probably one of our most fun events since it’s more relaxed.”

The tournament coincided with a number of other festivities at the Ft. Pierce Marina, including Friday Fest, the Saturday Farmers Market and the annual Boat Show, which helped to introduce the mission of the Hibiscus Children’s Center and gave land-lubbers plenty to do while waiting for the boats to return.

“It’s a great event for the whole organization,” said Raquel Tilton.  “People come back year after year to volunteer.  It’s really a win-win for everyone.  And you know it’s always a party when it’s a Hibiscus event.”

Georgia Tyson, whose husband Brudde Tyson is a fishing guide, mans the Leader Board every year.  “Fishing is an interest, it’s a way for me to give something to the organization, and it’s fun!”

Andy Ingle, who founded the tournament six years ago, co-chaired this year’s event with Anthony Astrup.  Ingle teaches AutoCADD (computer aided draft and design) at IRSC and originally became aware of HCC after creating a virtual reality walkthrough of the Vero Beach Hibiscus Village prior to its construction.

“One thing led to another,” said Ingle.  “I know something about fishing and thought that a good, quality fishing tournament would be a good fundraiser.  We’re also working on holding a triathlon next April in conjunction with Child Abuse Awareness month.”

As Ingle described it, the tournament has categories for Dolphin, Kingfish and Wahoo as well as extended payout categories for Grouper and Yellowfin Tuna, and Matching Weight Pays.  There are strict rules for fishermen and tournament organizers, but after six years they have it down to a science.

“There are no boundaries in this tournament,” explained Ingle.  “If they want to run to the Bahamas and back that’s OK, as long as they’re here for the weigh-in by 5 p.m.  If they’re back at 5:01 it doesn’t count.”

The first boat back on Saturday belonged to Dan Kunze of Sebastian who brought in a 6.26 pound Kingfish.  Kunze works at DRS Technologies in Melbourne which sponsors him in the tournament.

“They give me $500 which covers the entry fee and the rest is a contribution to Hibiscus,” said Kunze.  “It’s great; I get to fish, Hibiscus gets a donation, and the company gives back to the community.”

Explaining some new technology they were utilizing, Anthony Astrup said, “Boats that are waiting to come in can now go to and see what has already been weighed in. Next year we hope to have an actual live camera so people can see the fish as it comes in.”

As boats began to arrive, and their catches were weighed by fish wrangler Gary Sack, most participants commented that the fish just did not seem to be biting that day.  Even First Place Dolphin winner Ed Richard said it was the only fish they had caught all day.

Steve Gadzke and Roger Marcil said they had charted a boat with their friend Captain Tris Colket and only caught a small sailfish which they immediately released.

“One year we had second place Dolphin and third place Wahoo; this year nada,” said Gadzke.

“It was brutal,” agreed Marcil.

Meanwhile, with temperatures hovering close to 90 degrees, the busiest tent was the one run by volunteers Margaret and Dr. Phil Martowsk.  They were doing a brisk business in much needed liquid refreshments, including what Raquel Tilton maintained are the best Margaritas in town.

Tilton was also busy working her magic with Ft. Pierce Police Officer Keith Holmes, who agreed to volunteer for Hibiscus Children’s Center.  “It’s a worthwhile cause,” said Holmes, whose family were early settlers to the area.

And in the end, that was really what the event was all about; raising funds and awareness to help the Hibiscus Children’s Center fight child abuse, neglect and abandonment.

Tournament Winners

Junior Men – Austin Doyle – 19.73 pound Kingfish

Lady Angler – Michelle King – 6.82 pound Kingfish

1st place Dolphin – Ed Richard – 23.59 pounds

2nd place Dolphin – Tim Stratton II – 22.19 pounds

3rd place Dolphin – James Bevan – 10.65 pounds

1st place Kingfish – Ryan Doyle – 21.17 pounds

2nd place Kingfish – Brian Rachko – 15.72 pounds

3rd place Kingfish – Ryan Evans – 6.34 pounds

No Wahoo {igallery 195}

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