Everglades City is certainly a small town known for its fishing, airboat rides and delicious seafood, but it should also be known for its amazing community and incredible school!
Everglades City School is in fact one of the smallest pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools in the state of Florida. I spent each and every one of my school years (Pre-K through 12th) there, and the entire time the student population never exceeded 200. Even now it is still the same!
Being in such a small school, you don’t have as many donors or receive as much funds as schools in larger cities do. This lack of funds for the school generated the awesome and fun idea of hosting a fishing fundraiser!
For the last three years, Everglades City School has hosted their own fishing tournament and fundraiser, “Hook’em in the Glades.” Jill Whitcomb, a staff member at Everglades City School, first thought of the idea when she took over as activities coordinator. “We were doing four Little Caesars pizza kit sales each year just to try and pay for the referees and umpires,” Whitcomb stated, “I decided to start a fishing fundraiser to support our programs.” All of the proceeds go towards and benefit the students attending Everglades City School.
Last year a new announcer box used for the basketball and volleyball games was purchased for the gym, and the rest of the proceeds from the event went to the athletic department for sports uniforms and sports gear. The fundraiser proceeds this year will also go towards a new leadership program for the students called “Leader in Me.” The first Hook’em in the Glades was set for October of 2017, but after Hurricane Irma destroyed the town it was moved and held in March of 2018. The second annual was in September of 2018 and this year it was held on September 21st.
Families, students, guide fisherman and friends all set out into the Ten Thousand Islands competing to catch the biggest snook, sea trout and redfish. This trio of fish caught altogether in the same day is known to us locals as the “Chokoloskee Grand Slam!”
Captains meet the day prior to receive the tournament rules and their official tournament measuring device. During this time, there’s a captains’ dinner where students from the school volunteer and do fun raffles where you can win prizes! Also included in the registration of an adult, student or onshore junior angler is an Estrada Art performance shirt. The Estrada Art shirts and captains’ dinner tickets can also be purchased separately.
The tournament has an Adult Division, Student Division and to make the tournament more accessible to kids (18 years and younger supervised by an adult), the school added a Junior Onshore Division so they can compete as well! There are seven awards categories, in the Adult and Student Division there are awards for longest snook, redfish and sea trout caught, and for the Onshore Junior Angler Division the most total inches caught. If you’re wanting to check out the rules and regulations before the tournament you can find them and more information on the Hook’em in the Glades website.
Hook’em in the Glades is not only for a great cause, it’s an entertaining event that creates memories with great people that you can look back on. I think it is so incredible that our school and community care so much that they always will come together for the students’ benefit. If you love fishing, participating in fishing tournaments or want to donate to Everglades City School for the students, I highly recommend you check out and sign up for the next annual Hook’em in the Glades!
University of Florida student Savannah Oglesby has lived in Everglades City her entire life. A lover of nature; some of her favorite things are sunsets, night lightning and mountains. She enjoys adventures and spending time with family, friends and two orange tabby cats. She also enjoys travelling, taking photos of nature, learning about extreme weather and seeing the world in different perspectives. Savannah’s love for Everglades City, and its history, is endless.