JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s one of the milestones of the sports calendar in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament is an annual tradition. And like the Players Championship, the Gate River Run, and the Georgia-Florida game, thousands look forward to the event every year. This July, the event will be held, but it won’t be exactly the same.
Jim Suber is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Jacksonville Marine Charities, the organization that puts on the tournament. He says the week and a half of events is the fundraiser for the charity. And this year, the 40th year of the Kingfish Tournament will be different than any others.
“It is a situation where you have to take it as it comes,” Suber said. “You’ve got to make lemonade with the lemons that you’re given. We’re gonna we’re going to make this happen. If we bring in five Kingfish. We’re going to take five Kingfish, and we’re going to give out that many prizes.”
Some of the changes include a different process to get to weight in the fish.
“We’re going to have to change the dock configuration a little bit to where we’re going to bring in two boats at a time, let one off and then let the other one off make sure that they stay where we’re going to mark off the social distancing categories up to the scales.”
Some of the festivities around the fishing tournaments will be scaled back or eliminated with health and safety in mind. There will be no dock fishing and organizers will be handing out hand sanitizer to all of the fishing teams.
They’re still working on how to safely proceed with the awards presentation and Suber says they are still working on how to properly take temperatures when the teams come back to the dock.
“It’s gonna be hard to do that though in reality,” Suber said “The reality of the 16th and 17th of July in Jacksonville, Florida, and you’ve been out fishing all day, your core temperature is probably going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 112. And so we’ve got to figure out that that program.”
Because boating and fishing have been so popular as activities you can do during social distancing, Suber is hoping for over 300 boats for the general tournament, and 200 boats for the Jr. Angler while the High Roller tournament is limited to 100. Plus the redfish tournament and the tournament of champions—there could be over 800 boats entered in the various tournaments.
Suber is also fully aware that many of these plans may change if state or local governments change guidelines for gatherings and social distancing. The tournament begins July 13th and runs through July 18th.