Local anglers were in high spirits for the T-Rex One Last Cast Fishing Tournament that started and ended at the boat park on Goodland on Saturday.
The tournament, part of the T-Rex Tournament Series, benefited from a beautiful dry-but-windy day in the 10,000 Islands.
The T-Rex Series is dedicated to the life and legacy of Trevor Smith and benefits the Trevor Smith Memorial Foundation.
“We’re in our sixth year,” said Wes Smith, Trevor’s brother and the Tournament Director. “We started planning this right after Trevor’s passing. The first year was so hectic and stressful—but very successful. We had so much community support. It was really amazing. We’ve been sticking with it every year since, and it keeps growing more and more and more.
“Trevor loved kids, he loved my kids, loved to fish, so we combined the two things. We raise money with the fishing tournament and we donate money to organizations like Youth Haven and Big Brothers Big Sisters. And after this year, we’re going to start a scholarship fund.
“My brother was 30 years old when he passed. We grew up on the island; it was perfect for us as kids. We loved fishing, and we enjoyed being on the water together in general. That’s where this all started from.
“This has been a strange year. Getting a permit was difficult. Thank goodness they lifted the restrictions for the state of Florida and we could go back to doing what we know how to do, with the banquet at Kretch’s on Friday night and fishing out of Goodland on Saturday.”
Currently, there are two events in the T-Rex series, an offshore event that was held in June, and the One Last Cast backwaters event. On Saturday, anglers were fishing for Snook, Redfish and Trout. It is a photograph and release tournament; the winners are determined by total length overall. Organizers hope to eventually expand to a four-tournament series.
“We give the fishermen their measuring devices Saturday morning,” Smith explained. “They check in with us at the boat park between 6 AM and 6:45 AM. We do our shotgun start at 7 AM. They have to check back in by 3 PM.
“There’s a $10,000 purse. $5,000 goes to first place, $3,000 to second, $1,500 to third and $500 to fourth. We do a $500 photo contest for the funniest, silliest picture you can take out on the water. That’s been a lot of fun.
“A lot of what we do is centered around conservation. We give to Captains for Clean Water. We’re involved with a lot of stuff they do.”
First place overall with 85.75 inches was the Fish On USA team of Marco Baldos, Luana Pigatto and Eduardo Rumbos. Second place with 79.5 inches was the White Bait Matters team of Brian Carlos and Troy Pruitt. Tree Chickens, consisting of Nick Yacono, Stephen Cooper and Christian Yacono, finished third with 78.25 inches.
There was a tie for fourth place that was broken by their check-in times. Team Rhymes with Delores checked in six minutes before team Radiology Regional to claim the $500 check.
The winners in the Fly division was the team of Kasey Hughes and Wright Taylor. They picked up a check for $675. The runner-up in the Fly division, Andrew Naeckel and Partick Rhea, won a prize pack from 239 Flies.
The funny photo prize went to team Radiology Regional.
Jack Stroube, Trevor Smith’s uncle and one of the organizers of the tournament, was pleased with the tournament.
“I think everything went well,” Jack Stroube said. “We had the second-best turnout ever. I couldn’t be any happier. There are a lot of people here. Everybody who fishes this tournament absolutely loves it. Guaranteed prize money. Every single penny goes to local charity. It’s a good cause and people just love the tournament.