In 2009, Carol Napoli and Becky Paterson started the Whidden’s Back Bay tournament to honor their friend and fishing buddy, Midge Callahan. This year, the tournament has taken on a new meaning with the passing of Barbara Whidden Chatham, and will be held on Sunday, April 22.
The tournament will start at 9 a.m. and fishing will end at 1 p.m.
Midge was a local artist who had a passion for a morning of back bay fishing. She was also a great supporter of the Gasparilla Island Maritime Museum at Whidden’s Marina, so it was natural that the tournament be for the benefit of that island institution.
The 2012 tournament will also be held in honor of Barbara, who grew up among the docks of Whidden’s Marina. Most days she could be found behind the desk of the Maritime Museum, which is housed in the old Red Gill Fish House building at the marina.
Barbara was there to greet people who walked through the door, happy to share the fishing history of the island with anyone who was interested in learning. Barbara passed away earlier this year, and there is a void that has yet to be filled at the museum.
This year the team shirts have been redesigned by Daniel Godwin to include a yellow rose, Barbara’s favorite flower.
This year’s tournament is slightly different than the previous events. Before, the tournament was held during the fall. The 2011 tournament date was pushed back to this spring.
According to organizer Dave Arner, the move was for a combination of reasons, primarily to avoid the chance of cold weather.
Paterson also explained, “The last tournament was redfish only, because that was what was in season and legal to take to weigh. This year it will be redfish and trout. First place will be whoever has the highest combination weight of two redfish and one trout. There will also be a variety of other prizes, including heaviest trout, heaviest redfish, most fish caught, first place female angler and a few others.”
The public is invited to stop by the dock throughout the day to follow the progress of the tournament. They will also be holding a raffle, so anyone who is interested can come by and buy tickets for a chance to win.
There will be representatives of the Gasparilla Island Maritime Museum on hand at the dock all day to meet with the public.
Each team can have up to four anglers, and the captains may be team members if they wish. The entry fee is $350 per team. After the tournament ends at 1 p.m., a lunch catered by Sisters Restaurant will be served at the Whidden’s dock. The fee covers prizes, lunch, team buckets and the donation to the museum.
If you want to help with the tournament, donations are being accepted. The big prizes are bragging rights and cash, but each team will receive a bucket filled with goodies from local merchants and information about local businesses.
If a local business is interested in sponsoring a team, contact tournament organizers to be matched to a captain. If you have a team and need a captain, or are a captain in search of a charter, contact Isabelle at Whidden’s Marina at 964-2878.
The tournament is also looking for sponsors to help with the cost of team hats, buckets and dinner and drinks on Whidden’s dock after the tournament. In 2010, the duo of Becky Paterson and Carol Napoli won first place with Capt. Charlie Coleman.
Though as Arner says, “It’s always been about having a good time. We just want everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves.”
Anyone interested in donating should call The Seale Family, Inc. at 964-0333 or Whidden’s Marina at 964-2878 for details and to arrange pick up or drop off.
Prospective anglers should contact tournament organizer Dave Arner at 964-0222.
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