June 17, 2011
Eyewitness News will be LIVE at the Big Bend Saltwater Classic this evening.
The Big Bend Saltwater Classic fishing tournament was launched in 1989 by The Organization for Artificial Reefs, Inc, (OAR), a private, non-profit, marine interest group based in Tallahassee. The tournament was started by the following individuals; Shawn Abbott, Ron Harrigan, Skip Hood, the late Dave Iacampo, Steve Leukanech, Jim Sapp, Frank Stephenson, and Quill Turk. The family oriented Tournament was intended to serve as OAR's primary fund-raising project.
Today, the Tournament is under the direct control of a non-paid board of directors, is incorporated under the laws of the State of Florida as The Big Bend Saltwater Classic Foundation, Inc, and is recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. OAR our parent organization has been a 501(c)(3) organization since 1987. Currently, all of the proceeds derived from the event are used to expand and develop a system of artificial reefs in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico, OAR's purview of operation.
With 223 anglers participating in the inaugural Tournament in 1989, the event quickly established itself as the largest professionally run fishing tournament in the Florida Big Bend Gulf Coast. With an average 700 competitors in recent years the Tournament ranks among the top saltwater fishing tournaments, by participation, according to Florida Sportsman Magazine.
The first tournament was held at Shield's Marina in St. Marks. This was changed in 1990 to Panacea Harbor Marina, then in 1991 the Moorings Marina in Carrabelle. In 2006, the Carrabelle Boat Club became the tournament headquarters. Since 1990, the Tournament has been a three-day event set on Father's Day Weekend. It is a rodeo format featuring multiple species in three divisions for competitive fishing for Juniors to Pros. The format has proven itself productive and inviting to participants and their families. The Bend Saltwater Classic is the Fishing Family’s place to be on Father's Day Weekend in North Florida.