ENGLEWOOD — Connie Breuggeman, a retired Englewood Elementary teacher, keeps her husband’s legacy with an annual grouper fishing tournament in his name.
Now in its ninth year, the John Breuggeman Memorial Grouper tournament will begin at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and continue Sunday at Cape Haze Marina at 6950 Placida Road in Englewood. Late entries are being accepted until 10 a.m. Saturday.
“The tournaments started after a couple of my husband’s friends and I started gathering around (following his passing),” Breuggeman said. “They threw $50 each and we all had the same idea and decided to donate it to the (Lemon Bay High School) scholarship fund that was set up after I retired.”
The Breuggemans spent most weekends fishing as far as 10 miles inland and 30 miles offshore to fish for grouper and snapper.
“Sometimes we fished overnight,” Breuggeman said. “We ate what we caught.”
Breuggeman said they usually spent time at Stump Pass, depending on the time of year. When it came to reels, Connie said she likes using her Shimano.
“I’m more comfortable using the spinning rod because I like the reel underneath better than up top,” Breuggeman said. “John liked using spinning reels. It seems more sporting somehow.”
When it came to bait, John liked to use a variety, while Connie stuck to cut squid.
“I feel it’s consistent, but it doesn’t smell good,” she said. “Sometimes we used live bait like pinfish or squirrelfish.”
Janice Conley, Connie’s sister, said the family usually held weekly fishing trips with John.
“I did fish a few times with them,” Conley said. “It was more my family that fished with them maybe 30 weekends out of the year. I usually get seasick.”
After Connie’s retirement from Englewood Elementary after 28 years, a scholarship was set up in her name for LBHS students. John’s name was added to the scholarship following his passing at the age of 59.
“My goal is to have four students have the $500 scholarships,” she said. “We hope we can do better. The raffle is what makes us the most money.”
In eight years, the scholarship has awarded $11,000 to LBHS students, and winners of the tournaments were awarded $18,550. Conley organizes the raffle.
“They’ve been going well,” Conley said. “We have six items available. Big item is a kayak. We usually sell around $1,000 in raffle tickets. That’s really where we raise the money for the scholarships.”
While the raffles pay for the scholarships, the entry fees pay for the facility use and prize money.
“John was an amazing man,” Conley said. “He was a very smart man and very beloved by everyone who knew him. He was very personable. I think that’s why so many people respond to this particular tournament in respect to him.”