BY MARCY SHORTUSE- The weather was suited more for the fish than the anglers, but even with torrential rain and storms the 2020 Quarantine Classic yielded 70 tarpon released over two days, and Capt. Charlie Coleman and his team aboard Casuarina taking top honors. The team that included Emily and Howard Wise, Nick Wenzel and Amber Gassman had the first nine releases of the tournament. The received prize money in the amount of 28,600.
Following close behind, also with nine releases, was the second place team of Capt. Wayne Joiner, Chris Sanders, Alex Shoupe, Michael Moorefield and Trey Starling. They received a second place prize of $19,320.
First fish of the first day prize went to the team on Phil-Jack with Capt. Matt Coleman. They also took the first fish of the day for the second day, and received $6,000 for each of those fish.
The $6,000 prize for the last fish of the first day went to the team on Outta Line with Capt. Blake Cheske. The $6,000 prize for the last tarpon on the second day went to the Big Mouth team with Capt. Kalee Joiner.
There were 23 boats in the field in all. Tournament coordinator William Woodroffe (who was also on the Phil-Jack team) said he knew it would be a wet couple of days, but as long as the lightning wasn’t close they would continue to fish.
“We had a weather committee that was independent to make appropriate decisions,” he said. “It rained both days, but fishing was still good. Overall it probably rained 30 percent of the time. We still got 42 fish the first day and 28 the second, which is a great result in those conditions. Day two had less fish but we had a rain delay of almost an hour in the middle of day two.”
Woodroffe said he was very pleased when he realized it was Coleman who had taken first place.
“We were so happy for our buddy!” he said. “He had a special angel looking over him.”
Coleman received the Jay Joiner Memorial Belt Buckle as the captain who released the most tarpon in this tournament. Because of the COVID-19 virus, many of the tournaments that usually count toward the belt buckle were not held this year. The Boca Grande Fishing Guides Association announced just a few weeks ago that this tournament would be the one that decided who would win the coveted buckle.
Woodroffe said he couldn’t predict whether another Quarantine Classic would be on the roster for 2021, and that we will all just have to wait and see.
“We would love to do it again but we will obviously have to work with the community to see how all the tournaments will be scheduled,” he said. “We were just happy to have an event this year in a tough time, and to have a great time.”