The seventh annual Gil Memorial Classic has already attracted more than 20 teams for the Oct. 12-14 event and could set a tourney participation record.
A record 22 boats entered in 2011 topping 2010's mark of 21. The anglers raised an estimated $3,000 for the Barrier Island Parks Society, nearly double the previous record.
Gil Memorial teams must catch one snook, two redfish and four speckled trout. The tourney challenges captains to land the greatest combined weight.
Gil Memorial organizer Rob Hudson, right, with his beloved grandfather, the late Frank Llaneza.
A Florida Wildlife Commission officer will use a measuring board and conversion scale to minimize snook handling. The Gil is catch-and-release for snook only.
The Gil Memorial grew out of a double tragedy: In 2003, Hudson's friend, Juan Gil, was killed in a car accident, and his father, Roberto Gil, lost a long battle with cancer.
Hudson started the tourney to honor their memory and raise money for a worthy cause. Parties and dinners are held all three days during off-fishing hours for the tourney, which provides an economic boost during a slow time on island.
What: Seventh annual Gil Memorial Classic
When: Oct. 12-14
Captain's meeting: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct, 12 at Boca Grande Marina, will include dinner, beer, drinks, raffle and silent auction. Lines in right after the meeting.
Where: Around Gasparilla Island
Why: Barrier Island Parks Society benefit
Contact: Organizer Rob Hudson (813) 288-5165
The tourney went along smoothly until 2010 when Hudson lost his beloved grandfather, Frank Llaneza, who passed away in March.
"He had a place on Damfino since he got out of the U.S. Coast Guard," Hudson said. "I owe my love for Boca and the outdoors to him."
Hudson also had back surgery in October 2010 and after two months of rehab, recovered in time to see his son born nine weeks prematurely in Tennessee while his fiance was visiting her grandfather, who passed away soon after.
"We named our son, Frank Charles, after my grandfather and Charlie Downing, our captain, who was actually born on Boca Grande," Hudson said. "(My grandfather) was a great tarpon fisherman."
Last year, Team Rum Aground - Derek Hiltz, Trey Carswell, John Bylaska, Philip Preston and Armin Watson - collected the $2,500 first-place check plus a trophy in the first fishing tourney of the season.
The tournament will start with the captain's meeting at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct, 12, at Boca Grande Marina and will include dinner, beer, drinks, the raffle and silent auction. Lines in will be called directly after the meeting and anglers can begin to fill their card. The highest total weight scored will determine the overall Winner and Calcutta's for each of the three species. The Juan Gil Award and the Top Lady Angler Award will also be given after the tourney.