August 10, 2019; Manteo, North Carolina:
Pink feathers, balloons and bras are not the normal accents for battle-hardened sport-fishers. But the Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament is not your typical sport-fishing contest. Named after a passionate local angler and victim of breast cancer, this memorial event draws dozens of teams for a single day of fun—and a purpose. Proceeds go to the Interfaith Community Outreach—Cancer Program to help support Outer Banks women afflicted with the disease. A total of 106 boats will head offshore on Sunday in search of billfish, dolphin and wahoo. Fishing begins at 8:30 and ends at 3 pm, with the awards banquet Sunday night. Team costumes and decorated boats set the tone throughout the Pirate’s Cove Marina.
“I know we won’t have any bananas on board. But we’re going to drink and have a lot of fun,” says two-time contestant Beverly Burnett, who is joined by Margaret Lewis and four other local lady anglers aboard Hammer Time, a 56 Viking. “This is such a great case, we really don’t care if we catch anything or not.”
The Alice Kelly is a release-only format for billfish. Blue marlin score 150 points, while white marlin, sailfish, spearfish and swordfish are worth 100 points apiece. A separate dolphin jackpot for the heaviest fish will earn a nice payout.
“We’re going to drink mimosas before we get to the bridge for our lucky ritual,” says Lori Clark of Kill Devil Hills. Clark and her group of OBX friends are Gulf Stream-bound aboard Reel Freedom.
Team Outlaw, a 52 Buddy Davis, is indicative of the spirit of the Alice Kelly tourney. The seven members, all dressed in pink tops and shorts with cowboy boots, hats and six-shooters, are competing for the first time. One is a breast cancer survivor and another was just diagnosed. Their fishing nicknames include Elusive Elaine, Shotgun Sherry, Hissin’ Kitty, Rootin’ Tootin’ Renee, Hell-raisin Holly, Hitched Heidi and Blazin’ Becky.
Vicki Hunt is also fishing the Alice Kelly for the first time with a long-time group of high school friends aboard Carolina Lady. The former cheerleaders from Lynchburg, Virginia, are led by Ann Pornell, who fishes regularly with her husband. The others are novice but are excited about the possibilities.
“We’re hoping to win, but either way this will be a fun get-together for a worthy cause,” Hunt explains.
In the Alice Kelly Memorial Tournament there are only winners, across the board.