Let’s go fishin’

Published 9:58 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A memorial bass fishing tournament is returning to Suffolk for its fifth year of raising money for local Boy Scouts.

The 2017 Thomas J. O’Connor IV Memorial Fishing Tournament and Silent Auction will be held June 3 at Johnson’s Gardens on 3201 Holland Road. The event is free to attend for those not competing in the tournament.

The family organizes the event annually to memorialize Thomas, who died in May 2013 at the age of 36.

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“It means the absolute world to my family to do this every year,” said his brother Jett Johnson, president of the Broken Oar Foundation and co-organizer for the event. “It feels like something we really need to keep my brother’s memory.”

The catch-and-release bass tournament will begin at 8 a.m. right after registration. Competitors will position themselves around the shorelines of six different ponds at the Johnson family farm. Judging will be based on the cumulative weight of the two heaviest fish per competitor, with a $250 top prize and special youth prizes.

The silent auction will be from 10 a.m. to noon and feature local artwork, handmade jewelry, gift baskets and other items. Lunch at 11 a.m. will be free with grilling favorites such as hot dogs and hamburgers, although cash donations are encouraged.

There will also be other games, music and raffles for attendees.

Proceeds will support Boy Scouts in the community, as Thomas was an Eagle Scout in Suffolk’s Boy Scout Troop 1. The Broken Oar Foundation helps families afford the hundreds of dollars it costs to send their Scouts to summer camp, Johnson said.

“We’re hoping to keep it growing every single year to keep sending Scouts to summer camp,” he said.

The event has raised about $50,000 during the past four years, and the Broken Oar Foundation sent four Scouts in need to summer camp last year.

“Our dream goal is for there to not be a Boy Scout in Suffolk who can’t afford camp,” he said. “We want to make that dream a reality.”

Tournament registration is $30 per entrant and $10 for ages 12 and under. The closing award ceremony will be at 11:45 a.m. Call 651-7717 or email jettrjohnson@gmail.com for more information.