An idyllic setting, the Naples Yacht Club welcomed around 250 people, including dedicated, red-shirted volunteers, for the annual RedSnook Catch&Release Charity Tournament prelude on Nov. 2 to benefit the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
Co-chaired by Lloyd Ligget and Rhett Robicheaux, Yacht Club general manager, along with honorary chairs Roland Martin and Aaron Adams, senior scientist at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, the two-day tourney drew 45 teams this year.
The three-hour kickoff — teams would launch from Naples Landing, Goodland and Everglades City at 6 a.m. the next morning — included a silent auction with nearly a hundred items divvied up into six categories. Later during dinner, six choice live items were offered by auctioneer Scott Robertson. He also handled the "Power It Up" live Fund-A-Need auction for a generator for the new Dalton Discovery Center.
Attendees populated not only the indoor/al fresco cash bar but also enjoyed complimentary sustainable wines and organic brews served up by Joe Pais, Whole Foods beverage specialist. Out on the club deck, extensive sushi and sashimi spreads and passed oyster shooters quickly attracted the ravenous.
Some snapped up a limited number of $100 raffle tickets for a full day's fishing tour guided by Aaron Adam, along with a gift cooler filled with special fishing gear.
"I've fished the tournament for six years now and am still amazed not only at the generosity but the high level of environmental awareness of those fishing that clearly reinforces the concept that fishermen know that clean water means more fish," observed participant Jack Kuhn, BMO Private Bank managing director for Florida's west coast.
Once in the dining room, all repeatedly swamped the full buffet dinner displays, featuring a massive paella; chafing dishes filled with a wide range of choices; and taco, beef carvery and dessert stations.
Perennial female tourney participant Michele Brown, enjoying the scene, said she yearns to "come back and fish with my grandkids in the future."
According to Conservancy Events Manager Nikkie Dvorchak, net proceeds including sponsorships reached a total of $125,000. Silent auction proceeds were $24,000 and live $38,000. This year's event will help fund the water quality programs and sport fishing habitat research undertaken by the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.