By CAPT. DAVID LEAR, PCBGT.com
Outer Banks Voice
The fishing wasn’t exactly on fire for the 28th annual Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament. The record 97 boats competing had to search hard in their efforts to find fish.
Some ventured as far as 70 miles south while others ran due east from Oregon Inlet about 30 miles. In the end though, all five places were filled and a couple nice game fish were hoisted aloft at the scales.
As one team declared when checking out the leaderboard, “We caught a beautiful day.”
Capt. Rom Whitaker and mate Andy Trant led their team aboard Release, a 52-foot Bobby Sullivan, to the first-place trophy.
Whitley Arvis of Colerain, Alison Beacham of Manns Harbor, Stephanie Brady, Allyson Hoggard and Chelsea Leggett of Windsor, and Katy Wilson of Wanchese released a blue marlin and 3 sailfish. The all-friends team has been competing in the Alice Kelly for seven years.
“This is awesome,” said Hoggard. “We’ve had the same team for seven years, all friends, so we’ve earned this, for sure. Capt. Rom is the best ever. This tournament is really a fun setting and a chance for all of us to get together. We have a good time and raise money for a cause we all believe in.”
The other four top teams all scored 300 points for three billfish and the final outcome was determined by time of release.
True Grit, a 54 Paul Mann run by Capt. Hank Beasley was second, followed by Uno Mas, a 68-foot Bayliss with Capt. Tommy Lynskey at the helm.
Capt. Jordan Croswait on Legacy (57-foot Bobby Sullivan) skippered the fourth-place team. Gratitude, a 60-foot Paul Spencer run by Capt. Carson Forrester, came in fifth place.
Susan Wolf of Newport News took the top dolphin honors as well as the jackpot of $19,550 for her 20.5-pound gaffer. Wolf was fishing aboard Sniper (58-foot Paul Mann) with Capt. Jimmy Bayne.
The largest yellowfin, a 61.8-pounder, was reeled in by Suzan Quesenberry of Richmond, fishing on Trophy Hunter. Kenneth Brown is the skipper of the 55 Buddy Cannady.
Michelle Desrosiers of Newport News was on the winning end of a 45.1-pound wahoo. She was fishing on Sea Rounds, a 52 Viking run by Capt. Doc Hoefer.
The boat was about 31 miles out on the 700 line in 45 fathoms when the striped speedster hit a purple/black lure. That catch turned out to be her biggest fish ever.
Derosiers and her teammates all work at the same medical facility with Dr. Hoefer.
“It wasn’t bad,” Hoefer said after the weight of the wahoo was announced. “We thought we were going to get rained on this morning, but we never felt a drop. It turned out to be nice.”
Emily Bracher, fishing on Pelican with Capt. Arch Bracher, was named the top junior angler and Summer Bracher won the Paula Stanski Award winner for Angling Excellence for her billfish catch.
A total of 64 billfish were released by this year’s tournament fleet.
“Thank you Alice, for bringing us all together once again,” said tournament director Heather Maxwell. “We couldn’t do this without our wonderful sponsors and all our dedicated volunteers.”
“We raised some serious money for a very worthy cause and we all had fun. So it really was a beautiful day,” Maxwell said.
The 34th annual Pirates Cove Big Game Tournament starts Tuesday, with live coverage all day by Capt. Marty Brill online at PCBGT.com, and every afternoon on 94.5 WCMS.