Last night was a ton of fun! The turnout at our monthly meeting and seminar at Gator’s Cafe, on John’s Pass, was awesome. We had two main things on the agenda: 2014 Old Salt Awards and The Mad Snooker. The night started out with the normal routine of everyone trying to find a seat, ordering some grub and drinks and catching up with some of your favorite story telling fisherman. It was nice to see everyone was making room at their tables and sharing space with others to maximize the space. Its always fun to meet new people, and last night we had quite a few new faces in the room.
Our fearless leader, Tom Verdensky, started off the evening with our award ceremony for 2014. Every year we give away a few awards to people that deserve to be recognized for their stewardship, leadership and commitment to the organization. This year the volunteer of the year award was officially named the Joe Sheehan Sr. (aka Philadelphia Phil) Volunteer of the Year. Joe was a key player in our organization and was a staple at all our tournaments for years. He was known as our “historian” and our official photographer. He is greatly missed and in his honor this award was named after his legacy. The awards started with not just one, but two people receiving the prestigious Volunteer of the year award. Jon Kaytis was noted for his dedication to running the “tournament line” and taking not he duties that Joe had left in his care. Next up was Diana Verdensky, she received the award for her 10 years of constant service. Diana has been at every tournament selling apparel for 10 years, if you haven’t met her, make sure you do at the next event.
We also have another group of volunteers we couldn’t live without. We started a Junior Old Salt program about 4 years ago. This year we had two outstanding kids that stepped up and went above the call of duty to make our events a success. These kids were not only logging volunteer hours for college resumes,they truly loved helping for their fishing community. Jamieson Craske who was signed on by Stetson University with a scholarship was awarded this honor of Junior Old Salt of the Year. We know he is going to go on to great things and cannot wait to see where life sends him. This was the year of doubles and we had a second Junior receive the award for his length of service, Tyler Spence has been a volunteer since we started this program as a freshman.
It takes a village, as many say, and we agree! Our sponsors are as important to keeping this organization running as our volunteers. This year we recognized Yellowfin Yachts as our main sponsor of the year. They were instrumental in helping us get the Triple Crown event off the ground and running and have continued their commitment to the Old Salts this year again. Our second sponsor of the year was Cracker Boys Outdoors. They are a newer sponsor that has come on strong with donations to every event. We appreciate their help and support through the year and look forward to continuing the relationship.
There is one crazy, unique award that is given out every year called the Phil Rice Turkey of the Year award. This award is given to the person that makes a fool or “turkey” of themselves at an Old Salt event. The award is given out by the prior years winner. So this year Joseph Campagnola awarded Kim Dyer with this title for “dive” rolling out of a golf cart and recovering with grace at the Bone Fishing Slam. We cannot wait to see what and who does silly stuff this upcoming year. Just remember, Kim will be watching.
The night wouldn’t be complete without one last award: LIFETIME MEMBER. In order to receive this award you must have a lifetime of dedication to the Old Salt Fishing Foundation. We were honored to present this award last night to Pat Shontz. Pat was part of the crew on one of the boats in the very first LOOP Billfish Tournament that founded our organization back in 1971. She has supported our organization for over 40 years and we proudly recognize her for a lifetime of advocacy for fishing in our community.
Onto the seminar, the Mad Snooker, Capt. Dave Pomerleau was awesome. He let us know how to catch snook, SNOOK and SNOOOOOK! He is the master at knowing the behavior of this lined species. He let us know what baits to use from artificials to live baits and when to use them. He spoke for about 30 minutes with tips on how to locate them and the best way to entice them to eat. Thank you Dave for a great seminar! If you are interested in Snook fishing, Capt. Dave offers charters. Visit his site here: http://madsnooker.com
Don’t miss next month …. March 10th – Sea Wall Tournament instead of a seminar.