BY MARCY SHORTUSE – There was excitement out in the Pass on Saturday night almost as soon as lines hit the water at 8 p.m. for the 2015 Ladies Howl at the Moon Invitational Tarpon Tournament, as three boats hooked up within the first four minutes. There were 27 releases in all, which meant the fish were biting and the anglers were having a howlin’ good time for the last tarpon tournament of the season.
Capt. Dave Chatham on the Jill Marie was fishing with his wife, Jill, Julianne Greenberg, Melissa Joiner Steyer and Candy Brooks. Being one of the winning-est captains in the Pass in the last few years, and knowing the heart and might of the anglers aboard his vessel, a betting person might have put money on the Jill Marie … and they would not have been disappointed. This was Capt. Dave’s second win for Ladies Howl, and he has also won the Howl at the Moon Tournament (the other one) twice and took second twice.
No matter where you were in the Pass Saturday night, you could hear the Jill Marie team howling at the moon. Jill said Dave was working hard to make sure his team did the best they could.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my husband and how hard he works,” she said. “He has such dedication. We had a great boat and such a fun team. I can’t wait until next year, then it’s fish on!”
In the end, Jill had two of the team’s four releases, Melissa got one and Candy got one.
“We were just honored to fish with so many talented anglers and gifted captains,” Candy said. “Thank you to Capt. Sandy Melvin and his ladies for their efforts in planning a great tournament. I can’t wait for next tarpon season!”
Second place went to Capt. Jason Futch and his team aboard Lenora that included Jasmine Freeman, Jocelyn Wack and Bryanna Sheckler. They had four releases as well. Third place – for last fish – went to Capt. Dumplin’ Wheeler and his team, Betsy Joiner, Karen Bolden, Julie Jean Robertson and Mila Wyman aboard Deja Vu. They hooked up at 10:58 p.m. and released that last tarpon of the night at 11:02 p.m.
Going back to those first three fish, the tournament started with the team on Capt. Waylon Mills’s boat Blaze hooking up first in the 8:04 p.m. minute, followed immediately with a hook-up by his brother’s, Capt. Willie Mills’ team, on the Tracy Lynn. Just after, in the 8:05 p.m. minute, the team on Capt. Charlie Coleman’s Casuarina hooked up as well.
The teams raced to release their tarpon first for the first fish prize. According to their official observer scorecards, all three teams managed to do so in the 8:09 p.m. minute, creating a three-way tie for first fish released.
Tournament rules award the team who called in “fish on” first as the tiebreaker, and team Blaze took home the first fish prize of $1,150.
In all, $1,750 went to the Hudson’s Relay for Life team, the charity of the choice for the Ladies Howl at the Moon Tournament.
“We had a great time out there, it was a beautiful night on the water,” said Capt. Sandy Melvin, tournament coordinator.
The complete release list is as follows:
- Blaze: 8:04/8:09 p.m.
- Tracy Lynn: 8:04/8:09 p.m.
- Casuarina: 8:05/8:09 p.m.
- Faithful II: 8:20/8:24 p.m.
- Jill Marie: 8:23/8:30 p.m.
- Native: 8:28/8:30 p.m.
- Faithful II: 8:34/8:43 p.m.
- Haywire: 8:34/8:44 p.m.
- Tracy Lynn: 8:37/8:39 p.m.
- Jill Marie: 8:40/8:42 p.m.
- Momma Leslie: 8:44/8:47 p.m.
- Miss Sarah: 8:54/9:01 p.m.
- Little Spook: 8:55/8:58 p.m.
- Jill Marie: 8:57/9:03 p.m.
- Jill Marie: 9:12/9:15 p.m.
- Hey, Moma!: 9:14/9:20 p.m.
- Lenora: 9:16/9:20 p.m.
- Miss Sarah: 9:28/9:36 p.m.
- Hey, Moma!: 9:42/9:46 p.m.
- Phil-Jack: 9:50/9:52 p.m.
- Lenora: 10:24/10:27 p.m.
- Faithful II: 10:29/10:36 p.m.
- Little Spook: 10:30/10:33 p.m.
- Tracy Lynn: 10:44/10:45 p.m.
- Lenora: 10:50/10:52 p.m.
- Lenora: 10:54/10:56 p.m.
- DejaVu: 10:58/11:02 p.m.