August 11, 2019; Manteo, North Carolina:
The ladies really know how to celebrate an anniversary. The 30th annual Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament wrapped up Sunday evening with a fanfare of trophies and recognition for a special day on the water. Blessed by pleasant weather and light winds, the 106 teams released 50 billfish and brought 22 game fish to the scales. When all the scores were tallied, Bangarang was declared the winner on the basis of three blue marlin releases. Regan Boyd, Danielle Oliver and Samantha Polk each wound in a blue one to accrue 450 points and the top trophies. Capt. Paul Spencer was at the helm of his 87-foot namesake.
“Conditions were amazing,” Boyd said back at the Pirate’s Cove Marina. “It was so calm and we saw a lot of bait. We were fishing along the 780 line.”
Sandra D, a 58 Hudson run by Capt. Mike Merritt, took second-place honors with three billfish totaling 350 points. Triple S (Capt. Todd Smith/Viking 60) had an identical score but came in third based on the release times. Capt. Austin Eubank guided his lady anglers into third place overall with 300 points aboard Hammer Time, a 54 Spencer. Rounding out the billfish finishes was Trophy Hunter, a 55 Buddy Cannady with Capt. Ken Brown on the fly bridge.
Caroline Walker, competing with Capt. David Walker aboard Jesus Freak, a 48 Blackwell, was named the top angler for hooking, fighting and releasing a white marlin.
In the winner-take-all dolphin jackpot, Katie Lowe of Elizabeth City only needed 15 minutes to whip a 45.2-pound bull that inhaled a pitched ballyhoo. Lowe and her team aboard Smoker (Capt. Brynner Parks) are splitting $31,025 for their efforts.
Harley Meacham, on Reel Freedom, caught the largest tuna, a 52.7-pound yellowfin, while Austin Tripp boated the heaviest wahoo aboard Marlin Gull at 38.4 pounds.
The big winner of the day was the Interfaith Community Outreach—Cancer Program. The proceeds of the entry fees and special raffles are used to fund support for breast cancer patients and their families in the local area. Last year more than 300 families were helped by the Alice Kelly Memorial donations.
“I’m just overwhelmed by the tremendous support of all our teams and wonderful sponsors,” said Tournament Director Heather Maxwell. “For 30 years now this fun tournament has helped so many and it really has a positive impact on the community. So I’m very grateful to everyone who make it all possible.”