For the second time in two months, a highly competitive shark fishing tournament hits the waters of Southwest Florida with thousands of dollars of prize money at stake. Following last month’s Guy Harvey Ultimate Shark Challenge in Punta Gorda, Shark Fest 2011 comes to the The Marina at Cape Harbour in Cape Coral on June 25-26, 2011.
Though a wide array of entertainment awaits back on land, the centerpiece of the fifth annual Shark Fest is the fishing competition itself. Baiting entrants with the taunting slogan “Are you man enough?” the two day shark tournament offers the additional spoils of $15,000 in prizes this year.
Shark Fest uses different rules than those that are seen in many other competitions. The catch and release tournament awards points for each verified shark, which must be over four feet and landed or brought to the boat, with only nurse sharks deemed ineligible. Point totals are aggregated and, following a lengthy twelve hour day of fishing on Saturday, the top five teams (and one random lucky loser) are invited to participate in the second day of fishing on Sunday.
On day two, the format is changed so that the remaining teams compete to be the first one to catch 16 feet of eligible shark, with no specimen being less than four feet in length. Depending on individual size, the number of sharks needed to reach 16 feet will vary. Once the necessary measurement has been reached, the sudden death finale has produced a winner and the tournament concluded.
Events back at Cape Harbour include a kids zone with amusement-style activities and games, a mechanical shark, live music, diverse food offerings, a tiki bar, numerous vendors, and many stylish new boats prominently on display. Admission is free, as is parking. The action from the water can be followed by viewing a mobile big screen television, set up in the primary gathering area, in order to provide periodic “shark alerts” sent wirelessly from the boats.
Following a visit on Saturday, the only noticeable disappointment was that the advertised free kids fishing derby from the docks of the marina was postponed. Prepared to gift 50 free fishing poles to entered children, the competition was scratched from its scheduled 1:00pm start time on Saturday afternoon. Instead, the kids fishing derby will get underway during the less favorable time of 10:00am on Sunday morning. For those families with church plans or that traveled with hopes of their children fishing on Saturday, this indeed is a letdown.
Perhaps the Shark Fest will redeem itself by awarding a worthy champion on day two of the fishing competition. The Marina at Cape Harbour, located near the banks of the lower Caloosahatchee River in Cape Coral, is certainly a picturesque backdrop for the weekend’s activities. Impressive marina facilities are only exceeded by the beauty of the resort’s waterside condominiums and the combination creates a capable host for this fun event.
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