Tarpon tournament benefits Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge

Published: Updated:

A Southwest Florida guide is fishing for money on Sanibel Island.

“People donate, we donate fish and charters, people – art work and people bid on it. And all that money – any money that’s raised that way goes to charity. 100% of it.”

People book Ozzie Fischer months in advance for his expertise and his “in” with the local wildlife.

“Where else can you go? I tell people that’s why this area is so popular,” said Fischer. “Look at all the wildlife we’ve seen in the past 15 minutes.”

Fischer knows the ecosystem, and relies on it for his career.

That’s why Fischer helped put together the tarpon tournament and all of the proceeds go right back to wildlife preservation at the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.

“You know, when you’re handling fish, you want to watch how you handle them. Like that big snook we just caught – I didn’t use a net on it because we’re going to release it.”

Ding Darling is a fixture on the island, and Ozzie believes in the importance of preserving that beauty.

“It probably helps the tourism,” said Fisher. “There’s a lot of people who come here and every year it’s – I mean, there’s not too many place you can go on vacation that they have a wildlife refuge on the island.”

The tarpon competition is key to keeping the refuge afloat.

The catch-and-release tournament is such a popular draw that this year it sold out entries in the first two hours.

You can learn more about Ding Darling on their website.


Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.