The largest single-day fishing tournament in Florida celebrates its twenty-fifty anniversary in 2014, as the Annual Wolfson Children’s Hospital Bass Tournament gets underway at safe light on May 17 in Palatka, the “Bass Capital of the World.”

Registration is open and will be accepted until safe light launch on tournament day. Cost is $100 per boat, and includes the Big Bass contest.

This year’s competition guarantees $45,000 in cash prizes, features a $10,000 First Place prize, a $5,000 cash prize for Biggest Bass, plus a $1,000 Dash for Cash prize. For details and forms, click here.

At the tournament on May 17, there will be a drawing for a fully rigged 2014 Bullet 20XDC Bass Boat with Boatmate Trailer and Mercury 225 Pro XS OptiMax motor from Bullet Boats and Mercury Marine.

The Wolfson Children’s Bass Tournament is a three-tournament, three-day event, beginning on May 15 with the Lads and Lasses contest for male/female teams only. Entry fee for Lads and Lasses is $80 per boat, with a chance at a $1,000 First Place prize and a $1,000 Big Bass prize. You can learn more here.

May 16 is dedicated to getting the VIPs on the water for a day of fun and competition. The VIP and Friends entry fee is $80 per boat and includes a shot at a $1,000 top prize, plus an additional $1,000 for the biggest bass of the day. Registration forms and details are available by e-mailing wchbasstournament@bmcjax.com.

Participants will gather for the sign-in at the City Docks area in Palatka on the morning of each tournament to receive boat number decals and Captain’s Bags.

Wolfson Children’s Bass Tournament is an important opportunity for sponsors, who have contributed more than $2 million over the 25-year history. Several sponsorship levels are available and forms and details can be found here.

The all-volunteer event began as the brainchild of the Plant Facilities Department and several contractors as a way to make an ongoing contribution to funding for Wolfson Children’s Hospital. The tournament is a labor of love for all involved, but for Preston Clark, 2011 tournament winner and Bassmaster Classic world record holder, the connection is very personal.

In 2006, Preston and his wife, Katrina, were expecting their second child, when a visit to Katrina’s physician brought the unexpected news that she was actually carrying triplets. Zoey, Benjamin, and Barrett made a premature appearance in August 2011 at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville. The babies had a stay in Wolfson Children’s Hospital’s Level III Newborn Intensive Care Unit, giving the Clarks an insider’s view of the tournament/hospital connection.

“When the triplets were born, we spent a lot of time in the NICU,” Preston says. “We were nervous and scared to death, but the staff kept us calm and really made an impression on us. We got to see what the money from the tournament is used for and learned that Wolfson Children’s Hospital is a very special place with very special people.”

Logo courtesy Wolfson Children's Hospital

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