RJ Ferraro and a group of buddies founded the Michael Shields Memorial Fishing Tournament to benefit local charities while celebrating the life of their friend. This year, with a Full Blood Moon and a mullet run in full swing, Anglers on the Treasure Coast fished to benefit the troubled youth of Martin County’s Project LIFT on September 25 and 26. The Tournament opened with a Captains Reception at River Palm Cottages in Jensen Beach. With over 400 in attendance, 176 anglers, 144 fished caught and over $35,000 in net proceeds to Project LIFT, the tournament was a huge success!
The Michael Shields Memorial caters to inshore fishermen of all levels. Even novices can compete as gold and platinum sponsors are paired with the area’s top fishing guides to fish for snook, tarpon, redfish and trout. This year, 19 guided teams hit the water producing exceptional catches including two snook over 42 inches, several large redfish including one at 42 inches, and tarpon up to 50 inches. All of the fish were measured and released safely. Anglers could also choose to fish on their own or with a team of up to 4 anglers. This year’s winners, the Sailcats almost filled the entire card with 3 snook, 3 redfish, 3 trout and 2 tarpon.
On Saturday, while boats were competing on the water, the Stuart Rod and Reel Club assisted tournament volunteers with a Free Kids Fishing Clinic for local Boys & Girls Clubs Members, and the children of the tournament anglers. The kids were taught the basics of inshore fishing as well as conservation and the importance of protecting our local waters.
Project LIFT is a local 501(c)(3) organization in Martin County that works with the area’s troubled youth. By combining substance abuse and mental health counseling with job skills and vocational training, Project LIFT has been succesfully converting local delinquents into job holding tax payers with recidivism rates that crush the traditional substance abuse treatment models. This year’s proceeds will help to fund a new 8000 square foot Palm City location for Project LIFT, where kids will learn to work on auto and boat mechanics, carpentry and screen printing among other marketable skills. For more information, visit Project LIFT
Michael Shields was born and raised in Martin County and died at the age of 23 from bone cancer. In his short life he inspired all of those that knew him to be a leader with both dignity and class. An avid outdoorsman, Michael never missed the opportunity to toss a fly in the St. Lucie River, or travel the state in search of snook, tarpon, redfish and trout. The tournament was named after Michael Shields by the tournament founders to remember him.
First Place Sailcats – Caleb Hood, Keith Parlier, Michelle Clark, Sarah Akins (3 snook, 2 tarpon, 3 redfish, 3 trout)
Merrill Lynch – Captain Adam White, Steve Goethel, Matt Bohn, Ali Canini (3 snook, 2 tarpon, 2 redfish, 3 trout)
Top Guide – Captain Adam White
Best Snook – Matty Plymale 41.5 inches
Best Redfish – March Nichols 42 inches
Best Tarpon – Josh Carroll 50 inches
Best Trout – Matt Smith 31 Inches
Best Fish on Fly – James Cronk 21.5 inch snook
Best Fish on DOA – Mark Nichols 42 Inch Redfish
Top Lady Angler – Sara Akins
Top Junior Angler – Baylor Bullock