OUTDOORS

Fudpucker’s Fishing Series begins May 7 with Red Snapper Round-Up

Special to The Log
The third annual Fudpucker’s Fishing Series is scheduled to start May 7. Pictured here is Chester Kroeger, also known as Father Fud, along with angler Kerry Veach with a red snapper he weighed during last year’s fishing series.

Fudpucker’s Fishing Series is kicking off the third year of its popular tournament series by raising awareness for the importance of sustainable fish habitat in Choctawhatchee Bay and its connection to the health of Gulf fisheries.

The inaugural Red Snapper Round-Up will debut May 7, the opening weekend of recreational red snapper season for Gulf state waters.

“Everybody jumps at the chance to catch red snapper,” said Chester Kroeger of Fudpucker’s. “I’ve never seen anybody do a snapper tournament … so why not have one on opening day.”

Kroeger said he’s had a lot of interest in the tournament set for next Saturday.

On the tournament website, 139 people have clicked they were interested and 30 or so have already said they will be there.

“We’d love to have 40 or 50 boats,” he said.

Fudpucker’s on the Okaloosa Island has 12 boat slips for guests to use.

Entry fee is set at $100 per boat, with $20 per entry being donated to the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance to enhance habitat in the bay. Fudpucker’s will also host a raffle with proceeds benefiting this cause, prizes including a paddle board, vacation stays and more. For more information about the tournament, including registration, visit www.fudpucker.com/fun-fishing-series/.

Proceeds from the tournament will enhance Choctawhatchee Bay fish habitat by supporting CBA’s OPERATION RESTORATION: Save Our Bay program.

The program promotes community involvement and collaboration to improve habitat in Choctawhatchee Bay through the construction of oyster reefs. CBA’s oyster reefs, comprised of oyster shell that has been recycled from local restaurants, provide habitat to a variety of species and organisms that live in Choctawhatchee Bay.

Offering shelter, nutrients and easy access to several tiers of the food chain, the reefs are critical to the overall health of the bay. Additionally, one adult oyster is capable of filtering 50 gallons of water in a single day. This improves surrounding water clarity and quality, which promotes the growth and sustainability of the bay’s seagrass beds.

“The oyster reefs, the improved seagrass habitat and water quality are vital components in CBA’s restoration of the bay, and they should be important to anyone who enjoys fishing in our local waters, since 80 percent of fisheries species caught in the Gulf spend part of their life cycle in an estuary like Choctawhatchee Bay,” said CBA Director Alison McDowell.

“Having fished this area for over 30 years it became obvious that our bay was in need of help,” Kroeger said.

“No other organization does as much to enhance the quality of our waters than CBA. … I feel this organization deserves my support, and the support of the community. I look forward to many years of helping this great organization contribute to the sustainability of the vital resource that Choctawhatchee Bay is.”

Destin Log Managing Editor Tina Harbuck contributed to this article.