Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fishing for 'Footballs' in Pre-Super Bowl Tourney; Palatka Officials Expecting Huge Bass and 200 Boats at NFL-Sanctioned Celebrity Event

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fishing for 'Footballs' in Pre-Super Bowl Tourney; Palatka Officials Expecting Huge Bass and 200 Boats at NFL-Sanctioned Celebrity Event

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Julavits, The Times-Union

The Putnam County Super Celebration Bass Tournament, Palatka's contribution to Super Bowl XXXIX festivities, could be a high-scoring affair.

"Unless we have an absolute ice storm, we're going to see some big fish weighed," said tournament director Ed Taylor.

The timing of the tournament, on Saturday, Feb. 5, the day before the Super Bowl, coincides with bass spawning season in parts of the St. Johns River system such as Lake George. That usually means fat, heavyweight bass -- footballs, as they say -- at the scales.

Taylor is expecting around 200 boats for the one-time, NFL-sanctioned event, which would make it one of North Florida's major bass competitions along with the Wolfson Children's Hospital and Save Rodman Reservoir tournaments.

The entry fee is $150 per boat, and the guaranteed top prize is $10,000 in cash. The tournament's heaviest bass will be worth $2,500 in cash, and $1,000 will be awarded to the angler catching the second-heaviest fish.

Based on a field of 100 boats, second place overall would pay $5,000, third place would be $3,000, and on down the line through 15 places. But those figures will be adjusted upward if Taylor's boat estimate is correct.

"All those payouts are going to be increased because we'll have more than 100 boats," he said. "It's a great payback, and every penny over expenses goes to charity."

Sponsors, including presenting sponsor Georgia-Pacific, have contributed $18,500 to the pot. Eighty dollars of every entry fee also goes into the prize pot, with the remaining $70 directed toward charity.

Proceeds from the tournament go to the Youth Education Town initiative, an NFL educational program for economically disadvantaged youth; and the Foundation for Rural Education Excellence, which helps fund public education in 12 North Florida school districts, P.K Yonge Developmental Research School and the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind.

Putnam County began working with the Jacksonville Super Bowl Host Committee more than two years ago to secure an NFL-sanctioned fishing tournament, said Dana Jones of the Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. …

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