BY MARCY SHORTUSE – The first major cold front of the season, complete with heavy winds, didn’t dampen the fishing enthusiasm for the 2015 Gasparilla Island Fly Fishing Tournament. Four redfish were caught on fly in less than great conditions. There were seven teams in all, 14 competitors.
Fishing began at 9 a.m. and the winning 22-inch red was caught on the fly at 10:50 a.m. by Capt. Eddie Potter and Justin Sexton. It was their first shot at becoming GIFT champions, as it was their first time fishing the tournament.
After that red was hooked anglers experienced an unusual three-team tie for second place, when all three teams each had a redfish 20 and three quarters inches long. Those teams included Capt. Bob Melvin and Ron Walker, Capt. Jamie Allen and Richy Meehan and Capt. Mark Liberman and Dan Kirkpatrick.
“We combined second and third place together and split it three ways,” Melvin said.
“However both winning teams, in keeping with the spirit of the tournament, donated the prize money back. Because of their generosity, we raised more than $3,000 for the Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce web cam project. The party at PJ’s was great; it was a wonderful time as well. Many thanks to all the local businesses who donated.”
Raffle prizes included six half-day charters valued at $500 each, a 12-weight, four-piece Orvis fly rod package and some amazing local jewelry.