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Oil spill can’t stop Rotary fishing contest on despite oil spill still on

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

The annual Chiefland Rotary Fishing Tournament at Cedar Key, where $7,500 in cash and prizes is on the line, is still on for Saturday.

While most folks do not want to mention the four million gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico and the fishing tournament in the same sentence, Bob Wolk, chairman of the club's biggest fund-raising event, said on Tuesday the tournament is still on for Saturday at 7 a.m.

Wolk said the committee overseeing the event has been in communication concerning the effect of the spill from the Deepwater Horizon drill explosion and fire off the Louisiana shore. On Tuesday, the Weather Underground Web site was calling for prevailing Gulf wind to push the oil slick west toward Texas.

He said if conditions change by noon Wednesday, when the club holds its weekly meeting, a decision will be made on whether to call the fishing portion of the event off.

"We don't feel it's an issue," Wolk said of the oil spill. "So we're going forward as planned. We don't feel like it's going to be an issue."

Even if the boats do not go out, the club's Captain's Meeting and Calcutta (that's Levy County speak for "party") will be held, Wolk said. The dinner party will feature a silent (and sometimes noisy) auction of fish-oriented gifts and other goodies. The meeting and Calcutta is Friday with a 6:30 p.m. social and 7 p.m. dinner at the Cedar Key Lions Club. A cash bar will be available.

    Wolk was even optimistic that the oil spill could benefit the tournament.  "Maybe the fish will be running away from the oil," he said.

    The tournament is important to the club's mission. "There's a huge list of charities that this charity helps to fund. This tournament is designed to generate that revenue to fund those charitable activities," Wolk said.

    Last year's big tournament winner, Barbara Douglas, wife of Chiefland Police Chief Robert Douglas, will not be participating in the event due to an illness in the family. She took home over $2,500 in prize money for having the biggest bag and the biggest redfish. The chief won for having the biggest trout. He also will not be participating.

    The entry fees are $150 per boat, which includes a captain and mate and two Calcutta tickets, $50 for each extra angler, and $20 for extra dinner tickets. All entrants will receive a goodie bag and T-shirt.

    Prize money will be awarded as follows:

    • biggest redfish, $1,000, with second and third place receiving lesser amounts;

    • biggest trout, $1,000, with second and third place receiving lesser amounts;

    • biggest trash fish, $50

    • best bag, $2,000

    The biggest fish will be determined by the weight of legally caught fish.

    Entry forms and rules can be obtained by calling Robert or Jeff Beauchamp, event coordinators at (352) 493-4808, between 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.