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Redfish tournament raises $14,000 for scholarship in late student’s name

(EN Photo / Paul McDade)
Fishermen check the day’s results on the scoreboard. (EN Photo / Paul McDade)

On Sunday, Feb. 22, the Fallen Eagle Redfish Classic blew a fundraising goal of $10,000 out of the water. The event was hosted at Nervous Nellie’s to raise money for the Jesse M. Woodyard academic scholarship. The JMW scholarship is Florida Gulf Coast University’s newest academic scholarship and is named after fallen eagle Jesse M. Woodyard, who died in 2014.

The JMW Committee was extremely proud and appreciative of all the support from the Southwest Florida community. Nervous Nellie’s on Fort Myers Beach donated its venue for the event and was one of 15 local sponsors that helped make the classic such a success.

The classic was one of the biggest fishing tournaments in Southwest Florida, with a total of 72 boats entered in the tournament as well as a packed house on land. With such a great turnout, the event raised more than $14,000 that will go directly toward the JMW scholarship fund.   

Boats with up to three anglers paid an entry fee of $150 to enter the tournament. Any additional anglers paid an additional fee of $50. From the entry fees, $3,590 went directly to the scholarship fund and the remaining $7,210 went to the prize money for the top five boats in the tournament.

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Some of the largest redfish SWFL has ever seen were caught by first-place winners Evan Hernandez and his son on their boat, Rippin’ Lips. The father-son fishing duo returned to land with two redfish that weighed in at a combined weight of 16.26 lbs.

As the day came to an end, the Woodyard family accepted the $14,000 check in front of the crowd, where not a single eye was dry.  It was an emotional day for all who attended, but the JMW Committee is comforted knowing that Woodyard’s memory will live on through the JMW scholarship.

If you would like to learn more about the FERC or wish to donate to the scholarship, visit

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