At the 33rd annual Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament, the bridesmaids walked down the aisle to the awards alter. After finishing second last year, Team Bi-Op-Sea captured the Billfish Jackpot and the top team trophy in 2022. The tally of two sailfish and one blue marlin releases based on time earned a jackpot payout of $44,200 for the local team. Bi-Op-Sea, a 59 Spencer, is owned by Charles “Craig” Johnson and run by Capt. Jesse Granitzki. This year’s memorial tournament set new benchmarks in teams (154) and purse ($102,000). An estimated 950 female anglers competed in the annual contest.
“We’ve had the same group of girls fishing with us for years,” Granitzki explains. “The team is our wives and girl friends. They all have a good time and are happy to catch fish.” Wendy Hayes and Kay Hall each scored a sailfish as part of an early double-header. Danielle Stine added the blue marlin to the scorecard a short time later. Bi-Op-Sea’s other team members included Mary Dembosky, Taryn Hall, Claudette Lajoie and Cara Sumners. Chris Stine is the boat’s mate.
Tarheel, a 46 Ricky Scarborough run by Capt. John Bayliss, earned second-place honors, also with 350 points. Carson Flatt released a blue marlin, while Nancy Brown and Flatt added a white apiece. John Bayliss, Jr., is Tarheel’s mate and Paige Bayliss, April Piland and Nicole Scotti were the other anglers.
Coming out of the Doghouse (61 Harrison), anglers Ginger Shackleford Oxnard (blue), Denise Jones and Codi Flemming (sailfish) were awarded the third-place billfish trophy. Britton Shackleford was at the helm for the catches. Denise Jones, Audra Shackleford and Bailey Shackleford completed the team with Bo Davenport working the cockpit.
Capt. Barry Daniels and his crew aboard Skirt Chaser, a 54 Buddy Cannady, earned the fourth place trophy after scoring a blue (Paula Snearer) and two sails (Jenny Bray, Chandler Price). Skirt Chaser is based at Oregon Inlet.
Team Gills Gone Wild competed on Mel-O-Dee, a 38 O’Neil run by Capt. Buddy Callaway to record two blue marlin releases for fifth place in the billfish division. Lillie Leavel and Nikki Seward were the anglers on those entries.
In the optional Dolphin Jackpot, winner-take-all division, Waverunner underscored the current situation with inflation. Alyssa Leary’s 16.2 pound dolphin was the heaviest fish and with a payout of $57,800, that catch was worth $3,567 a pound! Brian White runs the 63 Custom boat based in Manteo.
Summer Bracher outlasted the heaviest tuna for the event at 72.1 pounds. Bracher was fishing on the family boat Pelican (56 Paul Mann) with Capt. Arch Bracher. Freetyme, a 32 Topaz skippered by Capt. Kenneth Freeman Sr., won the top wahoo trophy after Robin Levey boated the biggest entry at 43.5 pounds.
In the individual angler categories, Katherine Farless, competing on Samanna II (58 Ocean), earned the Paula Stansky Award for Angling Excellence after releasing a blue marlin she hooked and landed herself. Capt. Huck Harriss runs the boat. Evie Medico won the Lucy B. Gaddy Junior Angler Scholarship Award after she boated a dolphin and released a sailfish. Medico was on Carolina Girl, a 53 Jarrett Bay run by Capt. Jessie Anderson.
“I’m proud of the fact that all the proceeds and 15 percent of the jackpot entries go to the Interfaith Community Outreach organization,” says Alice Kelly Tournament Director Heather Maxwell. “We also have other donations that support the tremendous work this group accomplishes for the Dare County community. Thanks to our teams and sponsors, the tournament will donate more than $60,000 to support those efforts again this year.”
According to ICO Director Jenniffer Albanese, 130 local cancer clients received services through ICO cancer stipends (210 adults and 54 children) last year. Those outreach funds totaled $98,000 to help the afflicted and their families with rent, mortgage, electric, auto repair, home rehabilitation, insurance, water, prescriptions, medical mileage for cancer treatments, lodging for treatment, counseling and funeral expenses. The ICO is a non-profit organization that serves the Outer Banks area and works closely with other charities and churches to help those in need.
The 34th Annual Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament is scheduled for August 11-13, 2023, at Pirate’s Cove Marina in Manteo.