By Capt. Joe Londot
This is it folks, April 25 thru 27th marks the twentieth anniversary of the Old Salt Fishing Foundation’s King of the Beach Kingfish and Spanish mackerel Tournament and they’re pulling out all the stops for this one. Combined with the Mad Beach Food Fest, this is one combination party and fishing tournament you do not want to miss. The Grand Prize for the largest fish weighed in is a cool $20,000,
In the past few years the crowds for this tournament have grown so huge the Old Salts had to move the venue to the Madeira Beach Ball Fields at 200 Rex Place just to accommodate all the action. If you never fished a King of the Beach Tournament or joined in the fun at the weigh-in and awards ceremonies then you’ve missed out on just about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on; and it’s a great party geared toward the whole family, so definitely bring the kids.
Since the tournament is being held in conjunction with the Mad Beach Food Fest, there will be vendors of all kinds, games, raffles, live music, food, kids beverages, and ice cold adult beverages; in other words, something fun for everyone. It’s estimated that over 10,000 partiers and well-wishers attended the three-day event last fall, and everyone had a blast.
Now about the tournament: This is truly a great fishing contest that anyone can win. It’s not unusual to have 300 teams registered to fish King of the Beach, since everyone has as good a chance to win as anyone else. You don’t need a big boat and you don’t have to travel far offshore to find winning fish.
There are separate divisions for single engine boats, ladies, youths and Spanish mackerel, so all your friends and family can fish, have fun and win.
Advanced registration is only $195 per team and there’s no limit to the number of anglers each team can have. Many teams make it a point to include a lady angler and a kid or two just to have more chances to win the separate divisions. This tournament pays out cash prizes to the top 25 places, based on the weight of the fish, so bring the largest fish you catch to the weigh-in. This tournament features over $80,000 in cash and prizes, the richest King of the Beach Tournament ever.
The mandatory Captains’ Party is Thursday April 25th at 6:30 p.m. and it’s an extravagant event all its own. At least one team member must attend to get all the official tournament rules, but bring everyone for the party, because it’s a total hoot. There’ll be raffles and auctions for cool prizes, fishing gear, exotic travel and too much more to mention here. Last year I won tickets for two to Key West on Air Key West in an auction for $85.
The tournament itself is Saturday April 27th with no formal check out to begin fishing, and the weigh in is from 4- 5 p.m. later that afternoon. This is when the party really begins to heat up as tournament teams come in from their boats and their families, friends and well-wishers gather to urge them on.
To get a complete event schedule, rules and regulations, and to register in advance for the tournament, visit www.OldSaltFishing.org online. If you miss advanced registration online you can register your team in person at the Captains’ Party. Capt. Joe Londot is co-publisher of the Tampa Bay edition of Coastal Angler Magazine.