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Sanibel Island Fishing Club takes on Youth Fishing Derby to keep tradition going

March 28, 2018
By TIFFANY REPECKI ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

The Sanibel Island Fishing Club has picked up the torch from the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge and "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge for an annual tradition.

On March 31, the club will host the annual Youth Fishing Derby from 9 to 11 a.m. on Island A at the Causeway Islands, with registration opening at 8:30 a.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Event coordinator Mike Doran, who is a member of the club, explained that funding cuts have prevented the refuge and society from being able to put on what would have been the sixth event.

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The Sanibel Island Fishing Club will host the Youth Fishing Derby on March 31 from 9 to 11 a.m. on Island A at the Causeway Islands.

"When it turned out 'Ding' was going to be unable to do it, we - the club - felt it would be a great fit," he said, noting that the club's members would volunteer their time to help out with the derby.

"'Ding' Darling has been really supportive of us taking it over," Doran added.

He pointed out that fishing is in the club's wheelhouse.

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"It's a great thing to be able to do something for the kids," Doran said. "We don't really do a public event like this, but we just really thought it's something that ought to continue."

Open to ages 15 and under, about 100 youth took part last year.

"We're looking to kind of do a repeat," he said. "We're shooting for 100, but there's really no cap."

Fact Box

If you go


Youth Fishing Derby


Sanibel Island Fishing Club


March 31 from 9 to 11 a.m., with registration at 8:30 a.m.


Island A at the Causeway Islands, 19931 Sanibel Causeway, Sanibel


Free and open to the public

Because of the anglers' ages, fishing licenses will not be required to participate.

"It's catch and release," Doran said of the type of derby. "And the children have to be able to hold the rod and reel and fish by themselves. Mom and dad, or big brother, can't help reel in the fish."

Dan Hahn Custom Builders and The Historic Bait Box will supply most of the bait, with the rest provided by Whitney's Bait and Tackle. The club will also have some loaner fishing rods available.

"We've got up to 60 rods and reels," he said. "We've got tackle that we'll be able to loan out."

Youth with their own equipment are encouraged to bring it.

"If you have your own tackle, bring your own tackle," Doran said. "If you don't have it, don't let that stop you from coming."

The participants will be separated into two age categories - ages 9 and under, and ages 10 to 15. The awards will be based on the total inches of fish caught, with a first through third place in each group.

He noted that awards will also go to the largest and smallest fish caught in each age category.

"There will be 10 awards," Doran said.

Club members will again volunteer their time to assist the children.

"Tying hooks and rigging the lines," he said, adding that they will also bait the hooks.

The derby aims to serve as an introduction to fishing for the youths.

"We would like to have kids who have never really fished before," Doran said, pointing out that the children will learn skills and safe, ethical fishing practices. "This is absolutely open to beginners."

Families are encouraged to come out and cast a line.

"This is such a rich area in sport and game fishing," he said. "It's a good wholesome thing too, and it gives kids something to do besides play video games. Getting kids outside is just a great thing."

The other sponsors for the derby include the Lee County Parks and Recreation Department, "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society-Friends of the Refuge, Billy's Rentals and Trophy Case of Fort Myers, which is supplying the awards for the winners.

"We've had great support from the community," Doran said.

For more information, contact him at 847-456-4650.

The Causeway Islands are at 19931 Sanibel Causeway, Sanibel.



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