The recently held Johnny Kellar Inshore Fishing Tournament is one of the Old Salt’s smaller events of the year but, smaller doesn’t mean less inspiring! This is the “kick-off” to a new tournament season for the Old Salt and it gets the fishing bug flowing through everyone’s veins. For starters 185 anglers isn’t too shabby. Having a tournament in its 28th year honoring a young man that battled for his life and lived to fish is nothing short of impressive…
The captains meeting, like all Old Salt captains parties (I mean “meetings”) was a hoot! Friendly, smiling faces all around catching up in the New Year. Fish smack-talk happening in every corner, good tunes playing in the backgound and a stellar raffle to wrap up the evening (as if the Old Salt would have it any other way).
Impressive is one adjective you can use for the fish that show up to the scales at the weigh in. The bets start flying at the Captains Meeting, who will win Master Angler? Who will make a friendly wager with a buddy to do something stupid like stick a fish down their pants at the weigh in if they loose? And, the biggest question of them all, who, will show up with a monster Sheepshead and/or Black Drum first?
Well, nothing short of impressive were the fish that came back to the scales. A quick highlight; 43.74lb Black Drum caught by angler Tom Campbell, a 5.96lb Sheepshead caught by Chris Wiggins and a monster photo release Redfish totaling 35.25 inches caught by Courtney Hadded. It was Elizabeth Morse who took the title of Master Angler this year with all five fish caught and back to the scales before anyone else.
This year a Youth Division was added to the tournament thanks to Fisherman’s Ideal Supply House of Madeira Beach. The Old Salt is all about families fishing together, so a separate division was made allowing a youth to decide at the scales if they want to compete in the overall category or weigh in the youth division.
As for me it’s the camaraderie that I experience that reminds me of why I love the Old Salt! It’s a great way to start the year. I’m around a bunch of “fishy” people I call my Old Salt family and I’m reminded of all the awesome individuals that helped build the Old Salt and the Johnny Kellar tournament to what it is today!
Jill Foraker (aka JillyFish)
Old Salt Secretary