Fishing Tournament in honor of Dalton Harrell a major success

Published 9:12 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Tragedy struck on December 15, when Bainbridge Public Safety responded to the Bainbridge Country Club in reference to a 21-year- old male being shot. The male, later identified as Dalton Harrell, eventually succumbed to his injuries and passed away.

Harrell was a vibrant member of the community, as a former Bainbridge High School baseball player and avid outdoors man, he was loved by many.

As friends and family attempted to wrap their mind around a life without Dalton, friends Ryan Higgins and Stephen Alderman devised a plan to help the Harrell family in a way that Dalton would love: a bass fishing tournament.

Higgins said he and Dalton became friends through a local bass fishing club: The Seminole County Stix. Both would fish every Thursday night in competitions during the summer, and so he felt like this fundraiser tournament would pay homage to his and Dalton’s friendship.

The tournament was hosted on Saturday, January 8 at Lake Seminole, with boats taking off from Big Jim’s Landing at safe light.

The cost was $100 per boat with a five fish limit, and fishers turned out in the masses to support the cause.

Higgins said 63 boats registered with approximately 150 people fishing. However, even more people showed up at the 3 p.m. weigh in. Higgins estimated 250-300 people in attendance, saying there was not room for another body at Big Jim’s.

“I was absolutely amazed at the support,” Higgins said. “But, at the same time, everyone loved Dalton and everything he did was big, so this is exactly what he would’ve wanted.”

The tournament offered a variety of prizes, all donated in honor of Dalton.

The first place winners would receive a two-person quail hunt at Riverview Plantation, while the second place winners would receive a two-person inshore fishing trip with Shallow Seas Charters. Finally, the third place winners would receive a 12-hour day or night catfishing trip to Lake Wheeler with Don Lawrence.

The winners of the Big Fish pot would receive a Thursday-Sunday stay at the winner’s choice of beach houses in either Mexico Beach or Port St. Joe, courtesy of JW Jones.

In a moment Dalton could’ve created himself, his best friend Griffin Long and fishing partner, Matt Baty won, weighing in a whopping 21.70 lbs. sack to secure the win of the hunt at Riverview Plantation. Not only that, but Long also weighed in a 5.65 lbs. hammer of a bass, winning the Big Fish Pot.

The Petearson brothers took home 2nd place, weighing in at approximately 19 lbs. and winning the inshore fishing trip.

Upon the conclusion of the weigh in, Higgins totaled up the amount made from the tournament and through donations given at the weigh in, saying that is raised a big amount for the Harrell family.

“I’m just thankful for everyone who supported this cause and everyone who came from the Southeast Georgia area,” Higgins finished.

Harrell’s father, Bobby, also expressed his thanks for everyone who came out in memory of his son.

“The turnout was far more successful than I ever dreamed it would be,” he said. “My Dalt would have loved it.”

While the money raised will help the Harrell family, they continue to ask for prayers in the coming months.