Scott Canterbury, who has earned about $672,000 in his 14 years as a fulltime pro angler, was paired at last year’s Redfish Cup Championship in Winyah Bay, Georgetown, South Carolina, with St. George Island’s Krista Miller. [ ]
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Franklin County about to land Bassmaster tourney

Franklin County looks to be quite a busy place for two weeks beginning in late October as tourist development officials have struck a deal to bring a big money, nationally televised fishing tournament here.

If details can be agreed upon, the 2024 Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship will be here Oct. 25 to 27, with 10 boats, each pairing a bass fisherman with a redfish angler, bidding to bring home the top prize, which last year was $37,000.

The following week will see the 61st annual Florida Seafood Festival in Apalachicola, so it will be a busy two weeks, to say the least.

“We’re hoping to do it, but we need to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s,” said Hank Weldon, executive director of the Bassmaters tournaments, which run year long and include series for categories that range from the Classic to College, and from the Kayak to Juniors.

“We hope to bring it there,” he said, and if so, he plans to be the tournament director on what would be a stop on the Pro Elite Series.

Last year, when the Redfish Cup Championship wa in Winyah Bay, Georgetown, South Carolina and was presented by Skeeter Boats, the winners were bass fisherman Fred Myers III and redfish angler Cody Chivas, from Panama City, and they took home the top prize of $37,500.

Finishing sixth were bass fisherman Scott Canterbury, from Odenville, Alabama together with redfish angler Krista Miller, from St. George Island.

 Miller was instrumental in attracting Bassmasters to consider Franklin County for the 2024 tournament, and TDC Director John Solomon and Chair Ricky Jones opened talks with the tournament.

By a 5-1 vote last week, the board approved a $20,000 promotional package that will see tens of thousands of views on social media, as well as a reach of nearly a million viewers with live Fox Sports coverage six hours per day on each of the two days of the tourney, likely to be headquartered in Apalachicola.

The only nay vote was that of Kathy Robinson, a recreational fishing industry insider with Robinson Brothers Guide Service. “It doesn’t do the fishing community very good,” she said. “It’s going to be a deficit to people who make a living (on the water). 

“The contestants get in the way of paid anglers, and those anglers don’t come back because they’ve been run off the water,” Robinson said.

Because the end of October is prime redfish season, with a state limit of one red per day, Robinson said the Bassmasters tourney “will be detrimental to our fishing guides. The TDC promotes off-season and October is not off-season for fishing.”

She said spending $20,000 “is a helluva lot of money. That’s not our market; Bassmaster people are sitting in front of their TV.”

Robinson said the pros will test the limits of the redfish resources. “Talk to the flats guys,” she said. “And you’ll get your head chewed off,”

Jones replied that “I don’t know that 24 fish is depleting our resource.” 

In written comments noted during the TDC board’s Zoom coverage, Miller stressed that “every fish will be returned to the water. It’s only 10 teams and the fishing area will include Gulf and Wakulla counties. It’s only 10 teams and 20 fishermen, covering three counties, and every fish is returned to our bay.”

She also noted, as did Jones, that anglers pay for their own lodging and for their own meals.

Solomon, who did not weigh in for or against the tournament, did note that he believed the promotional package would be a cost-effective use of marketing dollars, as good as many of the TDC’s many advertising and promotional efforts.

“Any recognition that can come to our county is a great idea and if we can provide that ability, why not?” said Apalachicola Mayor Brenda Ash, a member of the TDC board.

Solomon said logistics will have to be worked out. He said 10 Foot Hole, adjacent to Battery Park, is not eligible as a launch site, given city rules against tournaments.

Miller said that after a week of scouting the territory, tourney contestants will get started at 7 a.m. and they’ll fish until 3 p.m. for weigh-in. “They are then released back into the water from big tubs where they have been kept alive,” she said. “It’s important to these guys the fish don’t perish during this tournament.”

She said the competitors will likely have a 113-mile stretch, between Gulf and Wakulla counties to work with.

Miller, who has been working as a charter captain for the past dozen years, said she looks forward to getting started in assisting organizers to locate houses for lodging, and assisting with the many logistics that are required to host such an event.

“I want it to be the nicest tournament they’ve ever fished, one they’ll remember and remember our area,” she said.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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