MARATHON, Florida Keys -- Memorial Day weekend is rich with family, fun, food, and fishing in the Florida Keys. This year, it might make some happy anglers a little bit richer in cash.
The first Marathon Community Classic Inshore/Offshore Championship, set for Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29, is to award more than $15,000 in cash and prizes to winning anglers.
The tournament, sponsored by Tranquility Bay-The Singh Companies, is set up so that individual anglers, teams, and families can compete in 22 different categories of offshore and inshore fishing. A total of 30 awards is to be presented.
Oceanside anglers can score with target dolphin, tuna, wahoo and kingfish. Gulfside enthusiasts count grouper, snapper, cobia and permit.
Points are to be earned for the weight of the catch, with awards based on boat totals. Tackle is open to spin, conventional and fly. Tournament rules allow plugs, dead or live bait and chumming.
Cash prizes await the boats with the heaviest single fish of any species. On the ocean side, the three heaviest fish are to be worth $4,000, $3,000 and $2,000 respectively. For the inshore species, the three heaviest fish are to bring $2,000, $1,500 and $1,000.
Trophies also are planned for the boat with the heaviest combined weight of either the four offshore or inshore species, and individual lady and junior anglers for each offshore and inshore species.
Entry fees are $600 per four anglers fishing offshore, and $300 per two anglers fishing inshore. An additional $15 per person covers the social events.
The tournament is to kick off Friday, May 27, with a 5 p.m. captains meeting at the American Legion Post 154, mile marker 48 oceanside in Marathon. Hors d'oeuvres are to be served and a cash bar open.
The awards ceremony is set for 6 p.m. Sunday at the American Legion and is to include a pig roast, raffles, hometown hospitality and lots of fish tales.
Proceeds from the Marathon Community Classic are to benefit veterans and local students.
Captain Bill Sampsell, one of the tournament organizers, said that he expects as many as 60 veterans to be taken out for a day of fishing and then brought back for an honor dinner, and about 100 kids to be taken fishing and brought back to a picnic.
For more information and registration forms, contact Captain Bill Sampsell at 305-731-9059 or, in the Miami area, call Monty Lopez at 305-253-9548.
To find out about area accommodations, call the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce at 305-743-5417 or 800-262-7284, e-mail email@example.com, or visit the Florida Keys Key West Web site at www.fla-keys.com.