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WaterLine photo by Capt. Josh Olive

Patti Huffman with her prize-winner: A two-ounce gafftopsail catfish, which was the smallest fish entered in the tournament.

The Fishin’ Frank’s Fire Fund Catfish Tournament was held June 26 and 27. There were 254 anglers registered. Fishing began with an honor start at 4 p.m. on the 26th. The weigh-in was held at Harpoon Harry’s in Fishermen’s Village from noon to 4 p.m. on the 27th and saw 134 fish brought to the scales.

First place was taken by Tyler Thomas, with an 88-ounce gafftopsail catfish that he brought in alive (it was released after being weighed). Tyler took home a custom Fishin’ Frank’s Catfish Special rod made by local company Reaper Rods and a certificate for a fishing charter with Capt. Mike Myers and Robert Lugiewicz. He also won $250 from Westchester Gold, which he donated back to the Fire Fund.

Justin Lamb, Mary Roe and Kenneth Wes, Jr., also brought in cash prizes for their fish. Justin and Mary were awarded portable LED systems from Underwater Fish Light, and Kenneth got a signed Guy Harvey print. All three also walked away with fishing trips from local captains.

The competition for smallest fish was fierce, with 11 fish weighing four ounces or less. Patti Huffman took the prize (a Fishin’ Frank’s original custom rod and a 4-hour session with the Fish Coach) for her itty-bitty kitty, which weighed just two ounces.

Exact amounts were still being tallied at press time, but the event brought in an estimated $34,000 for Fishin’ Frank’s Fire Fund, which was established in an effort to try to put the local tackle shop back in business after a devastating fie on May 24 burned the building to the ground.

According to owner “Fishin’” Frank Hommema, his bid has been accepted on a building located at 4535 Tamiami Trail — just a quarter-mile from the old Fishin’ Frank’s location. The timeline for a planned re-opening will depend on many variables, but he’s hoping to see doors open on the new place sometime in October.

Thanks to everyone who came out and fished and to those who have supported the shop in their time of need.

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