The First Palms Fish Camp Snapper Slapper Tournament
The Palms Fish Camp Restaurant, 6359 Heckscher Drive Jacksonville, Fl.on the bank of Clapboard Creek, was the site for the First ever Palms Snapper Slapper fishing tournament on the first Saturday (August 11, 2018) of the first of only 2 weekends that the fish regulators at NOAA approved. The tournament was a great success and actually exceeded all expectations since NOAA announced the meager recreational open a little over 2 weeks prior to the two 3 day weekends where fishermen are entitled to keep only 1 Red Snapper per person per day. Despite NOAA’s inadequate notice the tournament sponsors: Strike Zone Fishing of Jacksonville, West Marine, Browns Creek Fish Camp ,Academy Sports, Atlantic Coast Marine and the Palms stepped up to make this 53 boat event a huge success.
Anglers competed for 10 places paying out $10,000.00 cash plus awards for top Junior Mikey Davis 20.05 lb, First Responder Brian Stafford 10.46 lb, Lady Clare Clare Bohn 16.10 lb and Military Angler Don Towery 11.40 lb with prizes totaling over $500 each in value as well as $500 value prize for a mystery weight fish Tony Eden 14.65 lbs. Matt Joseph on the Outta Line snagged First Place with a 24.65 lb Snapper worth $3500 plus TWT winnings of $900.00. The Captains meeting and weigh in featured live music on the deck with fresh local fish and Mayport shrimp offered and a drink called the Snapper Slapper that became a favorite with the crowd. Over 200 Northeast Florida fishermen competed in the event.
Congressman John Rutherford joined in the fun by fishing with Marshall Adkison one of the Palms owners and Brett Cannon owner of Atlantic Coast Marine. While Rep. Rutherford did not compete in the tournament the snapper he caught after only fishing about 15 minutes weighted 14.65 lbs was used as the mystery weight fish for the tournament. Rep. Rutherford who is a steadfast supporter of fishermen in his district had a firsthand experience that reflected the enormous population of Red Snapper off Northeast Florida.
The Palms Snapper Slapper got its name when Marc Hardesty, Marshall Adkison and Bruce Hall of the Palms began discussing the ridiculous regulations on Red Snapper and the game NOAA plays with Atlantic fishermen by not allowing any harvest of Red Snapper at all for years and then in 2017 having the limited weekend fishing in October when the seas were near impossible to safely fish. During the discussion one of them said that NOAA’s actions were a real “Slap in the face of face” to all fishermen hence the name “Snapper Slapper.”
In light of NOAA’s own admission that their data collection regarding Red Snapper is fundamentally flawed the tournament asked FWC to provide a team of biologists headed by statewide director Beverly Sauls and Northeast Florida head Russ Brody to collect data and otoliths (ear bone) of the Red Snapper weighted. The data and otoliths collected will be used to begin the process to accurately study Red Snapper, and further expose the miserable failure of NOAA’s policy regarding this fishery and tremendous waste of tax dollars over the years.
The next Palms Snapper Slapper Tournament will be when the NOAA bureaucracy decides to allow Red Snapper fishing again.