GIFT Tournament set for November 23

November 12, 2021
By Marcy Shortuse

Another island tradition is coming up, and if you’re a fly fisherman who loves to fish for redfish you won’t want to miss this one.

On Tuesday, Nov. 23 the 26th annual Gasparilla Island Flyfishing Tournament will be held in local waters. Fishing begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m., so make sure you’re at the Pink Elephant (5th Street) boat docks and ready to fish at 9 a.m. sharp.

There are two anglers allowed per team. A captain can be present on the boat as a third occupant as long as he or she isn’t fishing, and in that case, they will not have to pay an entry fee. Anglers will make a $150 donation to the Boca Grande Historical Society as their entry fee and that amount includes an annual membership to the BGHS.

Proceeds from the entry fees will support the archival projects at BGHS. 

Teams will measure and release all redfish caught and document the overall length of their two biggest redfish. If they have the biggest fish documented, they will be the winners.

“Everyone is trying to get their name on the perpetual trophy,” said tournament founder and coordinator Capt. Sandy Melvin, owner of Gasparilla Outfitters. “We’ve been doing it for 26 years now and have raised more than $50,000 for island causes over the years. The late Capt. Bill Hathcock came up with the tournament when we first opened the store in the early 1990s. He started the acronym GIFT. When we opened up the fly shop, he said they should start a fly fishing tournament. I said fly fishing guys usually don’t compete in tournaments. He said we should make it for charity, not for competition. So that’s what we did.”

Questions about the rules can be answered by contacting Capt. Sandy 964-0907.

“We will be using all traditional flyfishing methods,” Melvin said. “We’re proud to support the archival project for the history center. It’s so important to keep history alive.”