Big fishing tournaments for tiny hearts

Largest single-day bass tournament in the US raises money for children’s heart surgery program

Capt Don Dingman guides a young angler catching a bass at Rodman Dam

The largest single-day bass tournament in the US and the largest bass tournament in Florida looks to grow even more this year.

This year’s highlights:

· More than 1,000 anglers and more than 600 boats are expected to participate.

· More than $50,000 in cash prizes will be awarded.

· Now in its 31st year, the tournament is recognized as the largest bass fishing tournament in Florida and the largest single-day bass tournament in the United States.

· Public may enter drawing for a chance to win a rigged, 2020 Bullet Boat Model 21XRD with a Mercury Pro XS 250 engine, courtesy of Bullet Boats and Mercury Marine, valued at $57,000. All proceeds from the drawing will benefit Wolfson Children's Hospital. To enter the bass boat drawing, please visit

· Wolfson Children’s Hospital challenges anglers across the Southeast to attend this year’s tournament and beat the event’s record of 688 boats participating in the event.

· Proceeds from the tournament will support the hospital’s heart surgery program, a collaboration between Wolfson Children’s Hospital and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

· Since its inception, the tournament has raised more than $4 million for Wolfson Children’s Hospital of Jacksonville.

Featured events include:

· Thursday, May 14: Lads and Lasses (1 male, 1 female boater). Palatka City Docks

· Friday, May 15: VIP and Friends (Sponsor Boats pre-fish). Palatka City Docks

· Saturday, May 16: 31st Annual Wolfson Children’s Hospital Bass Tournament. Late registration opens at 2 a.m. Boats launch from the Palatka City Docks at safe light.

Register online or applications will be accepted at the Palatka City Docks from 2 pm to 4 pm on Friday, May 15, and from 2 am to 8 am on Saturday, May 16. The Palatka City Docks are located at 309 River Street, Palatka, Fla. 32177

Tournament schedule:

· Thursday, May 14: Weigh-in begins at 3 pm, Lads and Lasses winners announced

· Friday, May 15: Weigh-in begins at 3 pm, VIP and Friends winners announced

· Saturday, May 16: Weigh-in begins at 3 pm

· After weigh-in, winners are brought to stage for awards and cash prizes, and drawing for bass boat.

Tournament history:

In 1989, the director of the Plant Facilities department of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, along with several others, came up with the tournament as a vehicle to help fund capital improvements and acquisition of advanced technology at Wolfson Children’s, a not-for-profit, pediatric hospital providing world-class care for children and families in North Florida, South Georgia and beyond. The bass tournament has helped Wolfson Children’s Hospital fund specialized treatments, lifesaving technology and capital improvements.

To register for the tournament or enter the bass boat drawing, visit