The conclusion of the 7th Annual Captain Mel Classic, I always take the chance to talk about our tournament sponsors.  Support of this event has been great from year 1.    This letter gets longer every year.    Support grows every year.

First time in seven years:  We lost some.   For the first time there were some letdowns.    In several of these situations, staff changes at companies changed the whole scene.     Two of those companies will be back as sponsors next year.    One company has just flat out let me down in a dozen ways.    It needs some attention really but it should all be corrected.  A second one, I have told the guy very plainly and honestly, he should look for another job.     Never afraid to call it like it is:  When someone promises something then doesn’t deliver, I don’t tolerate that. What really gets under your skin is when you think back at how much you have done for them.     It’s too bad it is that way.

That really isn’t the story.    I’m not concentrating on it.    I have said what I need to say (anyone who knows me knows that).

It is all about who did step up.  And it is a LONG list.

Trophies:  Alex Berg has been doing the wooden trophies for us for years.  The winners cherish them.    Kumpa did the two fish prints that were won by Angela Blanton and Olin Satterfield.   His art work is available on demand.  Inquire if you would like me to put you in touch with him.   Kumpa, a sculptor by trade, is a better artist than all the other people out there calling themselves artists.

The lure sponsors:  The same for seven years.   Their support outstanding.   New for 2017:  The Predator Eye.   This is a jighead I am using on my charters.   The feedback from people using them on tournament day was all positive.   I will be working with this company on some new projects that will be incorporated into the 2018 Captain Mel Classic.     If this company is serious about jigheads:  I will lead them to the promised land.

Mirrolure:    Awesome topwater selected by Eric Bachnik.    The participants caught some nice fish on this lure.    I used extra lures left over in the raffle and people were tickled to be able to own more of them.    If you are like me, you use a lot of Mirrolures year round.     We thank Eric for his generous contribution for 7 YEARS.    If you don’t own any Mirrolures:  Why are you on this email list??

12 Fathom:   Craig gave me basically anything I wanted.    I set up good bags for our participants.   I set up a few dozen prize packs for our winners and our raffle.     People were pleased to win those little Plano containers.     People caught fish on 12 Fathoms that had never used them before.   More converts to a bait I use every day.     12 Fathom a supersponsor for 7 YEARS.   The best plastic baits I have ever used:     I cannot thank Craig enough for everything he has done for me the last ten years.

Joe Jigs:     You got a Silly Willy, a Joe Jig and an Edje.     Quality choices in jigheads, Captain Joe has sponsored this event for 7 YEARS.    The custom teaser, that was a Neil Taylor creation.    I use a lot of them in the months coming up.    If you need teasers, let me know.   I will sell them direct.   More stores put them in but you can get them from me if you need teasers.

Aqua Dream, Captain Mike sent a terrific lure pack again this year.  A few years ago he supplied a spoon.    A very nice lure pack that went to one of our winners!  Maybe we can get him to donate a lure again sometime in the future.    If not, his donation is always great.


Fishing Supply Liquidators has been a big donating company all seven years. Their rod and reel donations sponsor our Junior Division.  Also in that category, Jamie Foster: The Skyway Fishing Piers came through also with donations that the kids loved.   You need fishing tackle, not a bad idea to stop by here.  Ron, usually there Sundays: Bob Kirby a lot of the rest of the time.   They will see what you need and show you what they have.    The Skyway Piers?   I still take my clients there on certain days because I know they will connect.


Smith Optics biggest sponsors every year of the event. Their donation like every other year was just incredible. Two of the sunglasses went to Winners and three ended up in the raffle (because there was not redfish caught in every division, those “prizes” reassigned to the raffle).   Smith Optics has been and always will be my choice in eyewear for fishing.   They have done a terrific job with this brand in the past ten years.  I met up with the main man there at ICAST about nine years ago when he had a very small booth.    I showed him the pair I had, told him I was impressed and we ended up spending a long time talking.    They went aggressive after that.   I would say that more people I know wear Smith Optics than Costa.     They are that good.      I tip my hat to Peter Crow.


Frankie’s Patriot barbecue, relocated to Ulmerton Road several months ago:   Gift certificate donated by Craig Gross.      This place you keep hearing more and more about and is a destination that is on my list.  Enjoy this spot:  Possibilities for an Angler Social here.   Got in there for the first time today.   I will go back to “try everything else.”      Wow.    Just wow.


Naked Ball Jigs were donated by Todd Krohn and were in everyones bags.     These lures catch a little of everything.


My sunscreen sponsor:  Sawyer Products, a Safety Harbor company with a great donation of sunscreen and bug sprays.    Sawyer is the best sunscreen I have ever used.  Very good to us:  They will be involved perpetually.


Sea Hags:  A gift card from Dave.   This place on St Pete Beach is a regular spot for me.   Food and drinks are fantastic.    Going there this week!


The. 8th Avenue Pub, Safety Harbor.   If you are looking for me you should try here.    A donation of a gift certificate, won by someone who already likes the Pub.   We will have angler socials at this location, and very likely, this will be the name of and location for the newest fishing club around.   This is my place:  Shocking but I hang out at a place with Pub in the name.


Tacklewebs   Captain Mike Ortego, last minute donation sent, used to sponsor the Open Division for prizes.    One not redeemed (only one redfish caught) one of these was in the raffle.  These things are great.  I’m going to talk to him about getting a couple more for my golf cart.   Their cooler webs, new last year are a great one to look at.   All their stuff is very useful.


Stick It Anchor Pin. In the beginning, Russ would send three of these.  Now for the last couple of years he has sent 8!     Huge for prizes, with the way things turned out I think three of these ended up in the raffle.     A great piece of equipment, I know so many of you have bought them.    We are pleased to have Russ involved every year.


The Fish Grip. I think last year was the only time they didn’t get anything to us.   They offered kind of close in and I told them not to worry about it.   Tucker sent about 25 of these.   Great for prizes, about half went to winners and half went in the raffle.   This is a GREAT inexpensive piece of equipment.      Most people own more than one.    Great gift idea if you are buying for a fisherman.


Kayracks:   For the No Motor division prizes I had one of Micah’s wall mounts and the bed extender he made for me.    These went to Nik and Russ.   If they can’t use them themselves I’m sure they will find a good home for them.     If you need anything like a rack, trailer stuff, Micah is in Safety Harbor.   I’ve been with him since he got started.   He is selling his racks all over the world now.


Scotty.  Got in touch with them about a month out.   Eric said “I’ll put it together.”  I would say that donation was near identical to last year’s.  They gave us great stuff again.    With so much of our event “No Motor” the Scotty stuff is very popular with our people.    I will be working with them on some projects this year and they will stay on as a sponsor of this event every year.


Yak attack:   Right along line with Scotty, Luther and his folks put together great items.   Much like Scotty most of the Yak Attack stuff is accessory type stuff.   Smart accessory type stuff.     They threw in full anchor trolley kits, mounting accessories, cup holders.   All stuff that the people that got it will certainly enjoy.   It is a shame they fell short in building me a kayak.    They went that way this year.   I thought they might be my new boat sponsor.   It apparently just wasn’t meant to be.


The Adventurous Woman, always worth mentioning.   They have made a great donation over the years that has helped me a great deal.   Moreover:  Their ladies sign up for this event.    I happened to speak to their group a couple of weeks ago    Always impressed with how many of the ladies are always there, years later, I was tickled when a good number of them signed up to compete this year.


I didn’t as them for much.  My affiliate store Bill Jackson’s gave me all the bags to put stuff in.    They would have done anything I asked.   I didn’t.    Darry Jackson has been good to me from the day I met the man.    They are the best Outdoor store in the state.


Hoo Rag:  I kind of saved this one for last.     I stumbled on them when I was on my computer one day.    I wrote up a letter telling them about our event and said I would enjoy seeing if they wanted to get involved.   I heard back from someone almost immediately.    Corresponded.   Answered a couple of questions.    Three days later:  A box arrives.    Everyone who was there saw it.    They sent about 100 of their face buffs.     I gave these out to every winner and we had to work hard in the raffle to get rid of them all.   Our participants, loyal to our sponsors, will be buying this product in the future.   No doubt.     I hope we can have them involved every year.    That donation was fantastic.  If you work for a store and you don’t have Hoo Rag:   You need to.    This company so complete to do what they did:  I would sell everything they have.


In 2018 I already have two new sponsors that will be getting involved.   I hope to get all the others back, which usually isn’t too difficult.     Please let me know if you need any other information about any of our sponsors.    If you or someone you know would like to become a sponsor, just set them up to talk to me.   We would love it.


Congratulations to our winners.     Thank you to Kim, Mark and John Veil for their excellent assistance.   Mark:  Great as jiudge.   Never a complaint about his decision.    John:  My client arranged to be here for this:  Processed the data, working tight with Mark.     Kim took care of all this other stuff.     And she is good at it.   Kim is already telling me how to do it better next year.   We will go with what she suggests.    Thank you to Shelly for becoming my impromptu photographer….   Those photos are great.


We will have an even better time next year!


Neil Taylor

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