77ºF

Kingfish Tournament starts this morning

Tournament returning to two day event

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In its heyday, the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament would attract 1000 boats, mainly from Jacksonville, North Florida and South Georgia, for two days of fishing off our coast. Over the years, the focus of the tournament got away from the "local" aspect and concentrated more on the competition. As the rules changed and fewer and fewer local anglers felt competitive in the tournament, the numbers dwindled. Competitive fishermen from all over started to dominate the tournament with big and fast boats, capable of covering hundreds of miles to find and catch the biggest fish. Couple that with a downturn in the economy and rising gas prices, entries in 2014 were under 400 boats.

"We're getting back to the community event we once were," 2015 Tournament Chairman Fred Holmes said at the tournament site on Sisters Creek. Over 33 years of the GJKT they've contributed $650,000 to charity, helped build the Sisters Creek boat ramp and recently helped host the "Down at the Docks" fishing day for the Downs Syndrome Association of Jacksonville for the second straight year. "We want to be that family tournament where everybody has a chance to win," Holmes explained. "We'd gotten a bit away from that but we're on our way back."

Going back to the two day fishing tournament today and tomorrow, Holmes believes gives everybody equal footing when it comes to winning. "The shootout format didn't work for us. Too much pressure on one day. We're back where we want to be."

Local Captain Dennis Sergent thinks the playing field is level this year but for a different reason. "A thermocline came through here last week and scattered the fish," he explained during the annual GJKT Media Fishing tournament. "The water temperature is down, there's no bait on the beach right now so the fish aren't in one spot or another. Having a big, fast boat is no advantage right now."

For more information go to www.kingfishtournament.com.