The annual Flats Invitational Redfish Challenge celebrates its 10th year of existence next weekend based at the Marina at Cape Harbour.
The weekend kicks off with a captains' meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. The meeting includes a dinner served by Woody's Island Grill, open bar, live music, auction and raffle, Texas Hold 'Em poker tournament and casino table games. Organizers are raffling off a John Deere Gator S4 XUV vehicle with a maximum 250 tickets for sale at $100 per ticket.
"We have some great live auction items this year," said Kyle Potts of TowBoat US and a native of Pine Island. "We're giving away guided hunts and fishing trips, vacations and much more."
Fishing boats launch from the Marina at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. Each boat is judged by two redfish in the slot by weight at the Marina scales (by 4 p.m.)before being released. After the boats leave the Marina, a kids fishing tournament gets under way from 10 a.m. until noon.
Preregistration for the kids tournament are open online for a $20 donation, which entitles the child to a rod & reel, T-shirt and trophy as well as lunch with Ronald McDonald that starts at noon.
Registration for the Flats Invitational also is open online. The entry fee is $275 per angler prior to Aug. 25 and $325 per angler after Aug. 25 through the captains' meeting. To register visit www.mcflats.com.
"It has become a much larger event this year based on the number of entries we're getting," said Potts. "We have about 56 boats registered so far, but our projection is that we will have 70-plus."
For the first time in the event's history, tournament organizers announced securing a presenting sponsor - JDL Surface Innovations. Potts said four or five other sponsors have stepped up to support the kids tournament with a greater number of sponsors contributing to the Redfish Challenge.
All proceeds from the event are donated to the Cape Coral Municipal Charter School Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida. In the previous nine years, more than $400,000 has been raised by the tournament.
Cape Coral Municipal Charter School Foundation supports the four city charter schools - Oasis Elementary, Oasis Middle, Oasis High and Christa MacAuliffe Elementary.
Since 1996, more than 2,000 families primarily from Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Glades and Hendry counties have received hospitality from Ronald McDonald House while their ill children underwent medical treatments away from home.