The conclusion of the 9th 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.    We had two sponsors missing in action for the first time but the others donated more than they had in the past so we had plenty of stuff.    Ultimately support was pretty much the same as it was every year with the donations we did get excellent in size. 

Kumpa did the two fish prints that were won by our longest trout and redfish catchers tournament wide.   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.  Winners this year:  Donald and Larry with the largest red and longest trout.  

The lure sponsors:  The same for nine years.   Their support is incredible.

Mirrolure:    Very special thanks to Eric Bachnik.    This year’s choice was mine:  My favorite topwater in my favorite color.   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 all 9 YEARS.    If you don’t own any Mirrolures:  Why not??

12 Fathom:   Same as every other year, 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 8 YEARS.   The best plastic baits I have ever used:     I cannot thank Craig enough for everything he has done for me the last twelve years.   Winning fish caught on every style tail that were in the bags.   You can buy them bulk off their web site.   I recommend the 100 count bags.  

Joe Jigs:     You got, a Joe Jig and an Edje.     Quality choices in jigheads, Captain Joe has sponsored this event for 9 YEARS.    I use their Silly Willy for my pompano, mackerel and silver trout fishing year-round.      I tie the teasers.   They sell those too.  I used my own money to buy leader line from them for the raffle.   Silly Willy jigs supplied, they came through again.  

Fishing Supply Liquidators has been a big donating company all seven years. Their rod and reel donations sponsor our Junior Division.  This year their donation covered both the Junior and Ladies divisions.    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.

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 one ended up in 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 ten 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. 

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.   A huge supplier to the US military, Sawyer is a great company.    I thank them for their generosity AGAIN this year.   No sunscreen this year but Pat sent bug repellent that went out to nearly all of our participants.  

Stick It Anchor Pin. In the beginning, Russ would send three of these.  He sent six.   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.   This is great for our event:  Our winners and our raffle.     These are incredible prizes.

Scotty.  Excellent donation AGAIN this year.   We have so many kayak anglers we assigned these to winners and still had plenty left for the raffle.   Scotty is the leader in kayak fishing accessories.    They have an incredible line of product.   A lot of you were smart enough to take one of their catalogs home with you.   Scotty was extremely generous again, after many years of doing so.  

The Adventurous Woman, always worth mentioning.   They have made a great donation over the years that has helped me a great deal.   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.     Also, donations from John Hardman and Bobbie Davidson:  Sponsoring four kids.  

Tampa Bay Watch attends every year, sending Jim pretty much every year.    They met with our participants and picked up some supporters.    Tampa Bay Watch is the best environmental organization I have ever seen.  

Hoo Rag:  Another great donation for the second year.    Great products, went to our winners and in the raffle.   I will continue to stay in touch with them and keep them involved in the Captain Mel Classic.    People really enjoy this stuff and they have told me that they have bought more from this company.   That is why this program works.   Our participants support our sponsors.

My braided line sponsor:   Tuf Line.   They sent a bunch of sample spools that went to our winners and in the raffle.     Great thing for people to get.    It is the line I use and people are going to get a lot out of that.    Buy their line for all your reels.   Their product is industry leading.  

I donated twelve of my own books.   Fishing Tampa Bay and Kayak Fishing.    I also donated four rods by Temple Fork Outfitters, my new sponsor.     I also donated two Werner paddles.  

Pro Cure sent a sample pack I handed out at the tournament party.   

The grand prize in the raffle was a gas grill donated by Lowe’s in connection with Suncoast Animal League.   This was a great item.    Trade made, Kim ended up with the grill after Jim was drawn with the final ticket pulled.  

In 2020 I already have some neat stuff already started.    Put April 25th on your calendar. A special raffle with custom rods.    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, Ryan, Bobbie, Mark and John Veil for their excellent assistance.   Mark:  Great as judge.   Never a complaint about his decision.    John:  My client arranged to be here for this:  Processed the data, working tight with Mark.    Ryan from Indianapolis and Bobbie from right here in town.     Kim took care of all this other stuff.     And she is good at it.  Shelly did photos (again) and represented the Suncoast Animal League.  

Neil Taylor,  Tournament Director