BY MARCY SHORTUSE – It was great fishing weather on the evening of Saturday, May 9 as the 25th Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament was held in Boca Grande Pass. It had been 25 years since the original tournament was held, then called “Mothers and Others.” There were two boatloads of Italianos out on the water, Spook and Little Spook, which made it even more special.
Janet Gillespie Blair, one of the tournament’s founders, was out on the water in Little Spook, captained by Nelson Italiano, her son. Jody Italiano Levesque, the team leader of the ladies on Spook and winner of more than a handful of Ladies Day tournaments, was captained by her brother Nat Italiano. They ended taking first place in the tournament, and 16-year-old angler Ellie Levesque caught the first tarpon. The team also included Sue Wilkes and Andrea Nole.
The second place team on the Jill Marie included Team Leader Jill Chatham, Julianne Greenberg, Candy Brooks and Melissa Steyer. The third place team was aboard Casuarina with Capt. Charlie Coleman, and included Nicole Coleman, Theresa Lasher, Emily Wise and Amber Gassman. They caught the last fish of the tournament to win that title.
In all there were 38 boats in the Pass for the 2015 Ladies Day Tarpon Tournament, held by the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce. There were 18 official releases.
It wasn’t until the last few minutes of the tournament that things really heated up. After a slow bite during the first two-and-a-half hours, the last half hour found anglers calling “fish on” all over the Pass. In the last 12 minutes of the tournament there were 10 fish caught.
Capt. Nat Italiano was thrilled with the win. He said this was his fourth or fifth win for this particular tournament.
“My niece, Ellie, caught the first tarpon of the tournament and it was her first,” he said. “The second tarpon was caught by Sue Wilkes, also known as Aunt Boozie. She has fished on my team for years and has hooked several tarpon, but it was the first time she ever brought it to the boat. She was ecstatic. Catching the first tarpon, as well as leading the whole tournament, was very exciting to all of us. We always have fun in this tournament.”
The team on the Jill Marie didn’t get their first fish until in the last 30 minutes. It was caught by Jill Chatham, wife to Captain Dave. Then, just minutes before the tournament ended, angler Julianne Greenberg called out, “Fish on!”
Team Casuarina hooked third place with the last fish of the night with just 30 seconds to go in the tournament.
The team rode back to the docks still not knowing the official results. The last few minutes of the tournament were too crazy to try to interpret out on the water, but when the officials gathered at the Chamber office when the tournament was over, the first place team on Spook got a check for $1,000, pendants from Barbara Anne’s Jewelry and trophies. Their team’s name will also be added to the perpetual trophy in the Chamber office. The second place team received massages from All About You in Englewood and trophies. The third place team received trophies and gift baskets from the James Griffith Salon.
All trophies were provided by Englewood Glass & Mirror.
To find out how to get involved in next year’s Ladies Day Tournament, whether as a team or as a volunteer or sponsor, contact the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce at 964-0568. If you are an artist interested in having your work be put in the running for next year, call the Chamber as well.
For more photos from Ladies Day, go to the “media” tab at the top of our home page and go to “photos.”