In rain, shine, or stormy weather, organizers of a week-long fishing tournament across Aquidneck Island say the event will kick off Friday as scheduled to benefit the local family of a fallen soldier killed in Iraq.
The 5th Annual Staff Sergeant Christopher Potts Fishing Tournament begins Friday, Sept. 3 at 6 pm and will end at 10 am on Saturday, Sept. 11, with a finale to include a free cookout at the Portuguese American Club in Portsmouth and live music featuring Blurred Vision from 1-5 pm. Middletown bait and tackle shops, including The Saltwater Edge and Sam's Bait and Tackle, have been very active in getting the word out to all local fishermen to take part in this important event.
The fishing tournament itself is hosted by the Aquidneck Island Striper Team, of which Potts was an active member.
Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Potts was serving in Taji, Iraq under the 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery Regiment of the Army National Guard, when he was killed on October 3, 2004 while leading his men under enemy fire.
It was his 38th birthday.
Staff Sergeant Potts frequently corresponded with children while he served in Iraq, and, as an avid fisherman, he enjoyed the sport with his family.
And so, nearly six years later, his wife Terry Potts works as a tournament organizer to keep his memory alive and continues to strengthen his legacy for their children by promoting his values of family and duty through the annual fishing tournament, all the while bringing together mothers, fathers, and children through a time-honored sport.
The tournament began four years ago at the suggestion of Captain Mike Littlefield and Captain BJ Silvia, two close friends of SSG Potts, with proceeds from the tournament helping to support the Potts family.
Since then, the event has evolved into a memorial that draws hundreds of fishermen from all over Rhode Island and beyond.
Ralph Craft is president of the Aquidneck Island Striper Team fishing club, which has a membership of almost two hundred members of all ages and backgrounds. Craft is responsible for much of the organization of the event, coordinating the volunteers for the cookout and other important details of this patriotic event.
Donations for the tournament first came from Joe Lattenville, the brother-in-law of Sergeant Potts, and owner of Riverside Marine. According to Silvia, donations are generously given from store-owners who have never turned down a chance to give. The result is a huge raffle and so many ways for attendees to win.
In spite of the threat of tropical storm conditions from Hurricane Earl arriving at Rhode Island shores this Friday and Saturday, in true fishermen spirit, Craft says the event will go on rain or shine.
The Basic Tournament Rules:
- The competition categories are: Black Fish, Bluefish, and Striped Bass.
- Participants will only be allowed to weight one fish per species per day.
- Entrants will compete in four divisions: Boat, Shore, Kayak, and Women.
- Youngsters 14 yrs or older who are entered in the competition must be accompanied by an adult to receive any cash prizes, and children under 14 years old may fish for free.
- All fish must be weighed in before 10 am at the following businesses: Riverside Marine, Lucky's Bait and Tackle, and Sam's Bait and Tackle, where you can also purchase tickets.
The week-long 5th Annual Staff Sergeant Christopher Potts Fishing Tournament begins Friday, September 3 at 6 pm and ends at 10 am Saturday, September 11. The event includes a free cookout and live music featuring tBlurred Vision, from 1-5 pm on September 11, held at the Portuguese American Club in Portsmouth. Tournament organizers are requesting donations for the raffle and prizes, such as rods and reels. Cash donations will also be greatly appreciated.
The Tournament registration cost is $25.00 per person and includes a tournament t-shirt. Participation gives entrants the chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes donated from area bait and tackle shops and other businesses.
For more information, visit the Aquidneck Island Striper Team's website.
Please offer words of support to the wife and children of this fallen hero. Let your neighbors know you support this worthy cause. Tell us in the comments.About this column:
Middletown's coastline offers great game fishing. Columnist Ray Dutra looks closer beneath the surface. Do you have a fish tale to tell, or know where the fish are biting? Email Ray.