OUTDOORS

Big Mac Classic ready to roll

TINA HARBUCK
Sporting the Ronald McDonald red and white socks, from left, are Tracy McCraw of AJ's; Suzanne Jones and Dina West, Destin Fishing Rodeo volunteers; Ronald McDonald; Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Rodeo; Ann White, social liaison for the Rodeo; and Mike Wright of McDonald's. Wright will be selling the socks for $10 during the Big Mac Classic. For everybody "showing their stripes," Wright will be giving away coupons for McDonalds. "I want people to SOCK IT TO ME," Wright said.

The fourth annual Big Mac Classic fishing tournament to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida is set to go Sept. 26-28 with AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar on Destin harbor as host.

"It's shaping up to be our biggest yet," said tournament director Mike Wright.

The event raised $92,000 last year and Wright says they hope to break "six figures" this year, with all proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House.

"The community has really embraced the house," Wright said.

Since opening in 1984, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida has served as a home-away-from-home and source of respite and resources for more than 20,000 adults and children, according to their website. Originally built as a 6-bedroom facility, it has undergone two expansions before opening a brand new 26-bedroom House at 5200 Bayou Boulevard in Pensacola in 2010.

"One hundred percent of the money goes to the Ronald McDonald House," Wright said. "I love it. I wouldn't be where I am today without the community. And I've seen what the House can do."

Entry fee for the Big Mac Classic is $250 per boat for the two-day fishing event. Eligible fish are king mackerel, wahoo, barracuda and blackfin tuna.

"The payout is heavy on the king mackerel," Wright said.

The angler with the largest king mackerel over the two-day tournament will take home $5,000. Second place king is worth $2,000; third, $1,000; fourth, $500; and fifth, $250. Plus the biggest king for each day will garner $500.

As for the other fish, the angler with the largest wahoo, blackfin and barracuda will take home $1,000 each.

There will also be an aggregate division for king mackerel with cash awards for first, second and third place winners. The aggregate division is a total weight of four fish over two days, with a three fish maximum on day one of the tournament.

 There is also a division for the ladies. The lady with the largest king mackerel, wahoo, blackfin tuna and barracuda will receive a gift certificate.

And there is also an event just for the kids — the Cane Pole Classic.

This event set for Saturday, Sept. 28 from 10 a.m. until noon, is free for youngsters 12 and under.

"We provide the cane poles and the bait," Wright said.

Youth will get a chance to fish off the docks behind AJ's and Ronald McDonald will also be in attendance.

There will be three age divisions for the youth to enter and win prizes. However, each child will receive a participation certificate and trophies will be awarded to the winners.

Food and entertainment will also be provided during the tournament.

As for the Big Mac Classic, the scales located on the docks behind AJ's will open both days at noon, but close at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday. The awards ceremony will follow at 6 p.m. at AJ's.

CAPTAINS MEETING

The meeting is at 6 p.m., Sept. 26 at AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar with dinner served by AJ's.

Each registered boat should have someone at the meeting.

Any rule changes or new information will be announced at this time.

Late registration begins at 4 p.m. and closes at 10 p.m.