■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
It was a competitive tournament to the end on Saturday, June 22 when the Ladies Night Out “Howl at the Moon” Tarpon Tournament was held in Boca Grande Pass. The tournament had originally been scheduled for late April, but a weather system passing through made for a postponement.
Fishing was consistent throughout the three-hour tournament for the 19 boats participating, culminating in 42 releases.
First place went to the team on Casuarina with Capt. Charlie Coleman and Tracy McBride, Amber Gassman, Alex Gassman and Renee Lindsey. They won $5,130 and “Fish On” necklaces from Barbara Anne’s Jewelry & Repair. Capt. Charlie received a Yeti bucket as well. They had the first five releases of the tournament.
In second place was the Family Tradition team with Capt. Travis Joiner and anglers Sally Joiner, Terry Joiner, Nicole Mansingh and Andrea Linheart. They won $3,420 and pearl necklaces donated by tournament presenter Special Effects for their five releases. Capt. Travis received a Yeti bucket as well.
The scramble for third place was the most exciting of all, with several teams hooking up less than five minutes before the end of the tournament was signaled by Head Judge Smitty.
Julianne Greenberg was in the chair on Capt. Dave Chatham’s boat Jill Marie when she felt the rod bend at 8:59 p.m., and she described what happened next.
“What a frenzy of activity on the boat!” she said. “We were yelling at Dave to call it in, and we hammered down on that tarpon. We were backing down fast, trying to get the fish to the boat as fast as we could. We had a great first mate too, Danny Snow, and he helped us. We actually thought Travis’ team was getting third; we knew he hooked up fairly close to us. There was a lot of confusion on the radio, and we didn’t know we had third until they tallied the clipboards. It was quite chaotic at the end.”
Thanks to Julianne’s last ‘poon, she and her fellow anglers Candy Brooks, Melissa Steyer and Karen Kelley received $1,900 and shark tooth earrings donated by Special Effects. Capt. Dave got a Yeti bucket as well.
Toward the beginning of the tournament Capt. Frank Davis and his team on Native were in the lead, with their first release at 6:14 p.m. At the top of the third hour they had three and were in first place. Searene and Casuarina had caught up with Native 20 minutes later, while Family Tradition still only had two. Just a half hour later the tables had turned again, with Casuarina having four releases, and Family Tradition, Boca Blue and Searene with three to tie Native.
Ten minutes prior to the tournament’s end, Casuarina had five on the board, Native had four, and several boats had three. Minutes later the Family Tradition anglers were showing what spitfires they were by coming up with two more releases to grab second place.
“It was very competitive right until the end,” said tournament founder Capt. Sandy Melvin. “We had steady action all evening, and beautiful weather. There were some really big ones caught that night.”
Melvin added that the island’s newest restaurant, Scarpa’s Coastal, was a great choice for the captain’s party the night before and for the awards presentation.
“They did a great job for us,” he said.