The Wounded Warrior Anglers of America Inc. is holding its first fund-raising fishing tournament next month in Matlacha to fray the cost of treating wounded warriors with a day out on the boat fishing.
The Thomas W. Mawer Memorial Battle of Matlacha Fishing Tournament will be held Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Olde Fish House Marina in Matlacha. The captain's meeting will be held Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. at the same location.
The fishing tournament is being held in Mawer's honor because he was a Marine in the Korean War who passed away Sept. 20 in Cape Coral. He joined the Marine Corps in 1948 and went into the Baker Company 1st Battalion 1st Marine Regiment 1st Marine Division as a machine gunner.
The Wounded Warrior Anglers of America Inc. was founded in 2012 by David and Judy Souders. Its mission statement "is to help rehabilitate the mind, body and soul of all service members who have been injured, wounded or disabled in the line of duty no matter what their era of service."
David said the organization is personal to him because of his injury in 2008. He served in the Marines from 1985-1992, before going into the reserves from 1992-1995. David then served in the Air National Guard in 2006 and recently got out May of this year.
When he was injured he said his wife Judy and fishing got him through the hard times, which helped in inspiring him to begin Wounded Warrior Anglers of America Inc.
If You Go:
What: The Thomas W. Mawer Memorial Battle
of Matlacha Fishing Tournament
Benefactor: Wounded Warrior Anglers of America Inc.
When: Nov. 10 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Olde Fish House Marina in Matlacha
Registration: $50 for adults 14 and older and $25
for children 13 and younger
"I am going to fish anyway, why not help someone else," David said.
The organization began in Matlacha, due to David launching his boat at the Olde Fish House Marina.
David said although he is a member of the Wounded Warrior Project, Wounded Warrior Anglers is not directly affiliated.
"Our wish and dream is to eventually be a national organization that helps the wounded and their families," Judy said.
Almost every weekend, David treats one or two wounded warriors to a fishing trip. So far this year, he has taken approximately 100 wounded warriors out on the water for a day of fishing.
The camaraderie, as well as the ability to be around others that have gone through the same situation, is what makes the fishing trips special for all those involved.
The first fishing tournament, the couple hopes, will inspire others in the community to get involved.
"We are trying to get more of the community involved," David said. "Something I would like to see the community rally behind."
The Souders are currently seeking sponsors who would like to donate funds towards the tournament prize awards, as well as a T-shirt sponsor.
Registration fees for the tournament are $50 per adult angler that is 14 years old and older and $25 per child angler 13 and younger. The registration fee includes a T-shirt and a meal ticket for a barbeque dinner.
Registration can be done online at www.woundedwarrioranglers.org, by stopping at the Olde Fish House Marina, or by sending a registration form and fees to Wounded Warrior Anglers of America Inc., Attention Battle of Matlacha, 3609 Embers Parkway, W., Cape Coral, FL 33993.
David said anglers do not have to fish from a boat to participate in the tournament.
"You can fish anywhere you want," he said, adding, "It is open to everyone."
The fishing tournament, which is a photo tournament that begins at 7 a.m., is for the longest mangrove snapper, longest sheepshead, longest Spanish mackerel and the total length trash can slam.
Participants will receive a Wounded Warrior Anglers measuring tape and measurement scorecard to keep track of their catch. All photos must be downloaded by the final check in time of 3 p.m. the day of the tournament.
The veteran with the best trash can slam will win a Calco Jack 7-foot 6-inch 1 PC MH Hurricane Spinning Rod with a Sargus 4000 series Penn Spinning Reel.
Cash prizes will be provided for each category for the adult and children anglers.
The event will also include a silent auction, raffles and a 50/50.
The big raffle prize for the first tournament is an 18-foot Nautic Star, 1810 Nautic Bay with a 90-horse power four stroke Yamaha with a magic tilt trailer, which has a retail price of $25,800. The boat is courtesy of Fort Myers Marine.
David said raffle tickets for the boat are $20 a ticket, which individuals can start purchasing now online, at the Olde Fish House Marina or by calling Judy at 423-620-9104.
David encourages the community to drop by the Olde Fish House Marina on Nov. 12 around 2-2:30 p.m. to meet the warriors who will be treated to a day out on the water fishing.