This letter is a summary of our event sponsors, partners and assistants. This is the longest letter of the event, a credit to the sponsors we have and I ask that you take the time to read all the information about the people and companies who made The Third Annual Classic so special. (And thank you for participating!)
It was an easy event to organize thanks to all the people mentioned below. From our lure sponsors to the people who helped me in various ways, I am indebted to you all for helping me put on this tournament.
I would like all of you to take a few minutes to give me your feedback for our sponsors. I will share your comments and testimonials with them. This information in years past is part of the reason why these companies affiliate with this event every year. If you want to let me know what things you bought for the tournament, how it worked and how much you buy it throughout the year, they will LOVE to hear this kind of feedback from you. If you won something and wanted to comment on it, also please reply to me and I will pass that along to these companies. Again: I appreciate you taking the time to do this because I know that this means so much to the companies who support our event!
I am hyperlinking the web sites for each company to their company name so you can visit their web sites by clicking on it. For some of them, it will bring up a product review I have written since so many of these companies are my own person sponsors for Strike Three Kayak Fishing.
The Classic sponsors will be featured throughout the year on www.capmel.com, a great resource for the local angler. The site that Mel built is alive and well and thriving in a new format and look, after a re-build in December of 2011. Read on for the information about our Captain Mel Classic sponsors:
Tournament “Lure” Sponsors
I will be compiling a summary of fish caught on the different lures, but initial feedback has been as it has in years past: Lots of winners on 12 Fathom and lots of winners on Mirrolure hard baits.
12 Fathom: Craig Bayhi donated the soft plastic baits for the contestants in the lure divisions and also bulk packages and tackle packs for prizes and the raffle. 12 Fathom is a great company and you should be using them all year long. If you ever have any questions on using these lures, let me know, as these are the lures I use year-round.
MirrOLure: Eric Bachnik, returning supersponsor of the Classic, donated one Mirrolure MirroDine for the lure divisions. He has done this without hesitation every year and we hope to always have Mirrolure as a Classic sponsor.
Captain Joe The Edje; Joe Jig; Silly Willy: Joe Hebert supplied the jigheads for the event and a Silly Willy-teaser lure for our competitors. The Edje Weedless jighead, an awesome tool; the Silly Willy a many faceted lure that I can tell you I will be dropping down to pompano all summer! His wife Jennifer came out to the Captain’s Meeting to give people a chance to buy more lures if they had trouble finding them at shops near them. Joe donated a portion of Check In meeting proceeds to the charity from the lures you bought at check in.
Nekkid Ball Jigz: Joined the event officially as a lure sponsor this year with a donation from Todd Krohn for every Angler Bag. For those who like to do pompano, drop this item down at a local bridge and see how it works. Thank you Todd for the donation and we will use more of the lures you donated for other capmel.com events throughout the year.
Our year 1 charity, Twila Cole is still there and due to the record breaking work they did in 2013 placing animals the decision was made to make them the 2014 beneficiary. The funds generated look like they will exceed $2500 (more likely approaching $3000). If you have the ability, try to pitch in even more whenever you can. They do great work. Mel Berman was all about supporting the animal agencies and this angle on the tournament was suggested by his family.
Tournament host site The Fat Cat Tavern, Bill Soleau I would have to say that this is not only one of my favorite places to visit in the area, this location is IDEAL for hosting larger events. If you have a need to hold an event during the year, call Bill to talk to him about it. His servers were outstanding, the food and beverages, right on par for the Fat Cat. We would like to keep the Fat Cat our annual Captain’s Meeting and Awards party location in the future. Renovations on that shopping center, Bill will likely be moving about a mile down the street but from what he told me, it should still work very well for hosting the Captain Mel Classic!
Fishing Clubs and Professional Guide partners:
Bay Area Canoe Kayak Club– Great participation by the BACK members. This club meets on the third Tuesday of every month at Bill Jackson’s in Pinellas Park. I am a founding member and officer and I am so pleased that this club has grown, sustained and become a great place for people to enjoy one another and time on the water.
Hardcore Kayak Anglers Club– Solid participation again from another local paddle-angler club. This is another great group of people who have great camaraderie and enjoy their own tournaments throughout the year. Member Mark Knowles serves as judging station chairman every year and the other club members participation in the Classic is appreciated!
Hurricane Pass Anglers Club– Also had participating members and donated a rod and reel for one of our winners. Thank you to Randy and others at HPAC who supported the Classic!
Fat Cat Tavern Fishing Club– A new club in 2012, a number of their members participated in this year’s event. They meet at the Fat Cat for their meeings and have a solid base of members and great guest speakers.
Nanette O’Hara, my contact at Tampa Bay Estuary Program is very involved with this club along with her husband (Rick O’Hara). I sent her a message regarding the fly division and she got word out and Rick and two of their other members went to work on tying up some flies for our participants. It was greatly appreciated because a couple of other tyers let me down. Great club that meets over off Bruce B. Downs in Tampa: Get on their newsletter email list. They have a tremendous newsletter and a great venue.
Tarpon Lake Flies, Captain Jeremy Loercher
I am going to get to meet this guy for the first time this week. We connected online and he volunteered to tie a fly for the Classic. I took him up on it and very pleased that I did. He sent 30 really great creations. If you need some flies, look at what he has and get in touch with him. If you need a guide when you go down to the Keys: Same thing. I am very impressed with him with what I “see.” Thank you Jeremy.
Alex Berg Woodworkings– For the third year, Alex did the event trophies which are treasured by our Classic champs. He also flew down with his Dad (Allen) to be part of the Classic program, handing out the trophies he made to our winners! If you ever want to consider a custom piece of woodworking for yourself or a gift for someone else, get in touch with Alex.
Tampa Bay Watch– All four years, TBW volunteer Jim Bennett has manned the display for this organization. Thank you Jim for taking the time to be a part of our event. What Peter Clark has established down at Tierra Verde is a benefit to us all. I talked about this at the event but I want to encourage you to get a paid membership to this organization, volunteer when you can and help them to continue to improve the habitat around Tampa Bay. In 2013 they worked on many large oyster restoration projects including one site I proposed behind Honeymoon Island. “Fixing what man hath harmed” please support this organization every time you can either by volunteering or with a paid membership!
The Florida Wildlife Commission Lots of shifts in the agency to end 2013 and they were not able to get an officer to the event this year but expressed their best to our participants! A new regional director for SW Florida, I will have many of these guys on the radio program and involved more closely with capmel.com. See a poacher, report a poacher: To report wildlife violations call: 888-404-FWCC
Sponsors: Prizes, raffle items
Native Watercraft. Four time supersponsor of The Captain Mel Classic, the Grand Prize in the No Motor division all three years has been donated by Native Watercraft. The most valuable payout for any one winner, the No Motor Division was the Native Slayer. This donation allowed for higher payouts in all divisions which allows for higher payouts in all divisions throughout the format. I took one quick walk out to the Fat Cat parking lot: A LOT of Native watercraft in that lot last Saturday!
Rich Schneider, a contact for me at the company, donated a large cooler for the Grand Prize for our Open Division. A premium product, the first place grand prize winner will be enjoying their Icehole cooler for his lifetime. In addition to this donation, I will also be working with the company on a new product offering that I am certain you will be hearing about in the future. Great donation from a great company.
Second place No Motor division “Grand Prize” category a Shuna Hooked paddle sent from Danny Mongno at Werner. Werner came on as a radio show sponsor along with 12 Fathom earlier this year. Premium paddles, if you are shopping for a new paddle, look at this company first. I have used their products for a long time now and never had any problems. Thank you Danny!
Smith Optics– A four-time supersponsor of the Classic, the Smith Optics were great prizes for our winners again this year. A great addition to the 2014 agenda: Shon Lassiter came into town to be able to meet our participants. Peter Crow has supported the event every year but they put in a LOT of extras this year. People I am running into this week are talking about their interaction with Shon. Their product line has gained a foothold in the Florida flats fishing scene. Lightweight and durable, look at Smith’s for your next sunglasses purchase. They are the only sunglasses I will ever use again. I have never had a pair scratch or break and on the water, exceptional performance. Huge thanks to everyone at Smiths for the extra support and donations this year!
Patrick and I have been communicating for a couple of years. The sunscreen sample you received is what I use daily. Sawyer supplies the military with these products: In addition to a premium sunscreen we also raffled off their insect repellent. A very generous donation, I know you can buy more at Bill Jackson’s but check this Safety Harbor based company’s web site for other locations to get it. If you need a water filtration product, take a look at what they have. Thank you Patrick for a very generous donation of Sawyer products.
Banshee Girls– donation sent by Euri Mead, who I met at a boat show this past Fall, were great for the Ladies division and for our raffle. Every entry got a Banshee product and I even saw one of the ladies wearing the one she got from Euri’s donation last year. I hope to have a local shop pick up her product line because this is some great stuff! Euri would have attended if not for another commitment that same day.
And event participant Kendall Albritton. Kendall sponsored the Ladies division with her great apparel. Every winner in that division received one of her shirts and/or hats.
A Ladies Division donation from Jennifer Roberts Michael of: Free Spa, Manicure, Pedicure, Womens. Our grand prize winner gets this certificate from Jennifer!
A donation of a baseball autographed by a player was supplemented by other high-end sponsor donations in a “separate raffle” that raised an extra few hundred dollars for the charity. In 2015 I will have a lot more baseball stuff from the team and what I will personally put together.
YAK Attack– Luther sent a great sampling of Yak Attack products that we used for the winners in the No Motor division and a couple of items that went in the raffle. The Black Pack he sent went to the second place Grand Prize. Exceptional donations from a great innovator in the kayak fishing community, Yak Attack accessories are available at Bill Jackson’s Pinellas Park.
Captain Mike’s Aqua Dream spoon: Mike Hakala was not able to participate this year as an official lure sponsor because of inventory challenges with a booming business but he sent a lot of product for the 2014 event. We used those for the winners and the raffle! His product line is tremendous, offers spare/replacement parts and we hope to have Mike return as a Classic sponsor in 2014!
Boomerang Tool Company– Second year this company has been a part of our event. This donation was facilitated by Dan Davison, my contact man and Daiwa rep in Florida. Keith Bordner, the contact man at Boomerang, tell me that this product is available at most local stores around the Tampa Bay region. The Snip is a fantastic cutting tool. I have recently started using their pliers and will be writing a product review on what I would consider the best built fishing pliers I have ever owned.
Simms– First rate apparel, waders, footwear and more Simms products can be found at Bill Jackson’s locally. Dave Chouinard had hoped to have the Simms RV on site again but had some challenges the week of the event. He got a fantastic donation over to me for the event again. Bill Jackson’s has the product stocked extremely well so drop in there to look at everything they have: Apparel, hats, footwear and more!
Scotty Fishing- New for 2013, Scotty Fishing Products sent a great donation of kayak fishing accessories for a second straight year that went to our winners and the raffle. A well-known company in the kayak fishing world, it was a pleasure to have them participate in our event with some great items for the kayak anglers (a majority of our participants). We are eager to keep Scotty as a sponsor with more than half our participants using paddle craft for our event. Thank you to my friends at Scotty for another big box of great products!
Steel Core– A tremendous donation from Mitch at Steel Core! Their slogan “If you love it, lock it up” I hadn’t heard until their box arrived with some decals. This locking strap has many uses and is a must-have for anyone who wants the peace-of-mind that their property won’t be stolen when left unattended. The donation was a huge addition to our No Motor division and both raffles. Review: Straps,
Jeff Hourigan’s St Pete company, a substantial donation for the event. Jeff also fished in the event. If you were not aware of his business he is in N. St Pete at
4336 4th Street North, Suite A
St. Petersburg, FL 33703
Tackle Webs– Captain Mike Ortego, another returning sponsor, supported the Open division with a donation of three webs. This is a great system for boats and kayaks, for storing gear. Thanks for being a part again this year.
Fishing Supply Liquidators Ron Simon has been a contributor every year with rods and reels for the winners. Fishing Supply Liquidators is at the Oldsmar Flea Market, I put his card in most of the Angler bags. Go visit Ron and see what deals he has for you at his store. Thank you again Ron!
Bill Jackson Shop for Outdoors– Great overall supersponsor of the event, Bill Jackson’s also sponsored the Fly division in 2013. The boxes for the flies were donated by the store as well as two of the five flies that went in the boxes. The Angler Bags for the lure divisions were also supplied by the store and appreciated. The store hosts The Adventurous Woman; The B.A.C,K club and has a rejuvenated Fishing Department thanks to the work of Brad Lowman. Don’t forget to go in and find the Simms products at Bill J’s!
Dunedin Fishing Center– Pat Rice is always ready for the Classic with the lures and advice on how to use them. DFC is open 364 days a year. For those in N. Pinellas, this shop is well-supplied and has the best prices. As it applies to all of our tournament sponsor shops: Support your local tackle shops! Visit Pat whenever you are in that area.
Logan opened his store in the past year and he joined the Classic team with a great donation of clothing, decals and a fishing rod! In Oldsmar, make sure you know where this location is because it is a well-stocked resource for Tampa Bay anglers.
Tuf-Line- Another incredible donation of sample spools of Tuf Line braided lines, was also supplemented by Tuf Line hats. A great choice in braided line, Tuf Line samples went to all of our Junior Anglers and division winners with more left over for raffle prizes. Use Tuf-Line: This is a great product. Thank you Ted for another year of a great donation for our event!
Sea Hags Bar and Grill- A future site for angler socials, Dave sent over a couple dozen drink holders that we put in the Angler Bags and handed out at the Awards party. A popular location on St Pete Beach, stop in and see them and tell them you heard about them because of the Captain Mel Classic!
Bar Fly Saltwater Grill, Safety Harbor
Celeste and Jeff Harrell’s donation of four $25 gift certificates: A great item for four of our participants to enjoy food and drinks at the very best place to be in Safety Harbor. Located on Main St a half a block from the Safety Harbor Spa, pop in anytime to get a bite to eat and something to drink. Tip: Get the Island Naches. Pet friendly, the “sidewalk scene” is often cluttered with Captain Mel Classic anglers and you can bring your dog and sit at the tables on Main Street.
Jeff Harrell Designs “and the woodworkings of Corey”. The flounder woodworking was supplied by Corey and there will be opportunities for you to order and buy those from him. The One Love tarpon is a Jeff Harrell Design and available for purchase at Bar Fly Safety Harbor. Jeff and Corey donated the Flounder and the smaller size One Love Tarpon for our winners.
The Fish Grip– Once again, a tremendous amount of support from the Hoge’s, who have been very generous every year. This year, a great donation of the Mini Grips. Feedback from participants in past years, the Grip is a great gift item that people buy often to give to friends who are new to the sport. If you do not have one, stop in a local shop and buy the Fish Grip!
Easydecals.com Jamie Albano generously supplied the tournament banner and Captain Mel Classic decals. He also produced the Capmel.com decals and 12 Fathom decals (available for purchase if you are interested) Moving forward, Jamie will do other projects for capmel.com and also the 2014 Captain Mel Classic.
Skyway Fishing Piers– Jamie and Race Foster, donate every single year for the Classic. A resource and friend of Mel’s, it is great to know them and I thank them for their donations every year! Great fishing at the Skyway Piers!
Pro Cure– Involved 3 of 4 yeras, Pro Cure sent items for the anglers to take and try out after our event (The Classic is an unscented lure format). We hope you enjoy the sample they sent and buy their product for your needs during the year. An effective product, we thank Pro Cure for their involvement and donation!
Stingray Promotions– Responsible for the embroidery of the Classic hats of which he donated a dozen for this year’s event. If you would like embroidery work done, talk to Ray. He is in the Clearwater/Largo area and he can do these projects for you. He has the Classic logo file if you would like to have that done on any of your clothing or hats.
Stick It anchor pins-another event supersponsor, Russ at Stick-It donated SIX anchor pins for The Classic as well as supporting other site events during the year. Anchoring systems for power boats and kayaks alike, if you do now own a Stick-It, get out and buy a Pin! Manual shallow water anchoring device: This is the one I have. Thank you Russ.
Came through with two fishing rods (read on below about “bonus rods”). With so many loyal St Croix rod users in the event, the donation made our participants very happy. Thank you Rich at St Croix for supporting the 2014 Classic!
Accidental sponsor for 2014: Neil Taylor and Strike Three Kayak Fishing. Funny story: In my 2014 rod shipment I had two Tidemasters broken by the shipping people. When I got four rods from St Croix I didn’t even think about the replacement rods they were sending and I threw them into the tournament materials. Reminiscent of poor accounting two years ago that led to paying out more than I took in: I don’t mind a bit. I know that the people who got them will enjoy them as much as I do. St Croix rods are the best on Earth.
Kayracks.com Micah Sieder donated again for the third year with a two level kayak rack. If you have a need for a rack system for your garage, dock or trailer, get in touch with Micah. He is in Safety Harbor and you will love the durability and function of his racks. Custom options available, he builds a durable product. The day after the tournament I had my trailer and made a turn where I overturned my trailer: The rack protected the boats! Cosmetic fixes up next, I can tell you that I am glad I had this rather than something else because my Native fleet is intact after that spill (not sure how it happened but the tongue popped off the hitch ball).
Bigfin Apparel– Nick Dyroff sent some stuff after the 2013 event I kept for the 2014 event. Thank you Nick for supporting the event.
Bay Area Reel Service– Phil is a talented servicing man and can resurrect your non-functioning reels. His card was in most of the angler bags so use it when you need a reel serviced.
Fish Tale Creations–
Jacky Davis shirts were a great addition to the Bonus Species contest and she came to the Awards party to show her other shirt designs. Thank you Jacky for your shirt donation! Interested: Find Jacky Davis on Facebook!
Sweetwater Brewing Company and Lee Martin-
Last minute addition to the 2014 Classic, Lee put together a great assortment of shirts, decals and some Sweetwater signs for our winners and raffle as well as two cases of bottled beer that went home with our participants. Bill Soleau and I will probably work up another Sweetwater connection in 2015 for you folks!
New sponsors for 2015? Are you interested yourself or have an idea: Let me know and I will talk to companies, tackle shops or people who can contribute to the event. In 2014, we will also have the addition of Werner (paddles), the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and three other companies that will be announced. If there was a little more time, these companies would have made it in for the event that just passed. But it is exciting that we will have more participating companies in 2014.
Extra assistance: Thank you to Gary White for capturing the photographs, documenting the event for our winners and the rest of the fun; to Mark Knowles who headed up the judging station on tournament day; to Carolyn Edds whose computer and spreadsheet expertise, processed the winning numbers with ease; Sheryl Beach for handling the raffle tickets and Ethan Harrell and Samantha Horne with the Raffle.
Your feedback is valuable to our sponsors. Take the time to give me your thoughts to share with these companies.
Next: The tournament recap and the 2014 Classic Photo Album! Stay tuned!
Tournament Director Neil Taylor
Owner and Guide: www.strikethreekayakfishing.com
“Something violent is about to happen!”