May 9, 2017.   The following Letter to the Editor was published in our Citrus County Chronicle on May 6, 2017.

Thanks to the Chronicle and several local businesses (sorry, I can’t recall them all) for sponsoring the 2017 Nature Coast Challenge – the annual Kayak Fishing Tournament hosted by the Inglis-Yankeetown Lions Club on April 22.  Unlike most other fishing tournaments, where harvested fish are returned to dockside for measuring, and over-slot fish (those exceeding the legal size limit) can’t be entered, the Challenge is a catch-measure-photograph-release event where all fish are eligible to compete, and most fish caught are released to fight another day.
I’m not quite sure why the kayak tournament is referred to as a challenge.  Fishing from a plastic paddle-craft is a bit more demanding than from a motorized boat, but, still, lots of folks manage.  Perhaps it’s because it requires three hands to properly administer the measure-photograph process: one to hold the fish down and keep it from flopping off the measuring board, the second to pinch its tail to get an accurate measurement, and the third to snap the picture.  Accomplishing this task with two hands is definitely a challenge.
Approximately 70 anglers participated in the event, with prizes awarded for the biggest redfish, biggest seatrout, biggest redfish / seatrout combination (the Grand Slam), longest combined length of several species (the Mixed Bag) and best catch by a junior.  All net proceeds went to charity.
The weather cooperated and a great time was had by all.
Thanks to Donna Norton and the other Lions who put this on.
Here’s looking forward to next year’s tournament.

 

Gary Rankel