Wins Top Billfish Honors and Sniper Captures the Dolphin Jackpot in the 2017 Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament
By Capt. Dave Lear
The bite wasn’t on fire for the 28th annual Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament. The record 97 boats competing had to search hard in their efforts to find cooperative fish. Some ventured 70 miles south while others ran 30 miles due east from Oregon Inlet. In the end, though, all five award categories were filled, and several nice game fish were raised at the scales. As one team declared when checking out the leaderboard, “We caught a beautiful day.”
Capt. Rom Whitaker led his team aboard Release, a 52 Bobby Sullivan, to the first-place trophy on the basis of four billfish released (one blue marlin, three sailfish). The all-friends team has been competing in the Alice Kelly for seven years.
“This is awesome,” says angler Allyson Hoggard, who released a blue and a sail. “We’ve had the same team for seven years, all friends, so we’ve earned this, for sure. Capt. Rom is the best ever. This tournament is really a fun setting and a chance for all of us to get together. We have a good time and raise money for a cause we all believe in.”
The other four top teams all scored 300 points for three billfish, and the final outcome was determined by time of release. True Grit, a 54 Paul Mann run by Capt. Hank Beasley was second (three sails), followed by Uno Mas, a 68 Bayliss with Capt. Tommy Lynskey at the helm for three white marlin. Capt. Jordan Croswait on Legacy (57 Bobby Sullivan) skippered the fourth-place team to three white marlin as well. Gratitude, a 60 Paul Spencer run by Capt. Carson Forrester, came in fifth place with two sails and a dolphin.
Susan Wolf took the top dolphin honors as well as the optional jackpot of $19,550 for her 20.5-pound fish. Wolf was competing aboard Sniper (58 Paul Mann) with Capt. Jimmy Bayne.
The largest yellowfin, a 61.8-pounder, was cranked in by Suzan Quesenberry, fishing aboard Trophy Hunter. Kenneth Brown is the skipper of the 55 Buddy Cannady.
Michelle Desrosiers was on the winning end of a 45.1-pound wahoo. She was fishing on Sea Rounds, a 52 Viking run by Capt. Doc Hoefer. The boat was about 31 miles out on the 700 line in 45 fathoms when the striped speedster hit a purple/black lure. That catch turned out to be her biggest fish ever. Desrosiers and her team mates all work at the same medical facility with Dr. Hoefer.
“It was a good day,” Hoefer said after the weight of the wahoo was announced. “We thought we were going to get rained on this morning, but we never felt a drop. It turned out to be a nice day.”
Emily Bracher, competing on Pelican with Capt. Arch Bracher, was named both the top junior angler and the Paula Stanski Award winner for Angling Excellence for her white marlin release. A total of 64 billfish were let go by this year’s tournament fleet.
“Thank you, Alice, for bringing us all together once again,” said Director Heather Maxwell. “We couldn’t do this without our wonderful sponsors and all our dedicated volunteers. We raised some serious money for a very worthy cause, and we all had fun. So it really was another beautiful day.”
Celebrating 28 years, the Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament has become a major event on the competitive East Coast big-game circuit. It was started to honor Kelly, the late champion for Outer Banks women, as well as to raise money for a very important cause—fighting cancer. It’s also the opportunity for women anglers to showcase their Gulf Stream talents while having fun with a defiant splash of pink in the form of t-shirts, costumes, ribbons, bows, and lures.
The Outer Banks Cancer Support Group is the major beneficiary of the Alice Kelly Tournament. All base entry fees are donated to the organization, and additional fund-raising efforts include a raffle drawing and a bra-decorating contest. The 2018 tournament will be held August 11-12 at the Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo.
Original Source: Sportsmans Lifestyle.com