There was a symmetry to their day: the first call of “Fish On!” went up from their boat, Casuarina, two minutes into competition. Their last fish bit with only two minutes left in competition.
The team of Theresa Lasher, Emily Wise, Judy Kesterson and Barbara Jaeggi had already won the day with three tarpon released when a last minute tug at the line sent them back into battle. Capt. Charlie Coleman was at the helm to see them through one last fight.
“I was sitting there watching my rod, hoping that if we got another bite it would be someone else,” laughed Theresa. “I didn't think I could handle Theresa. I don’t think I could handle fighting another tarpon.”
She had already released one silver king and helped with a second, and she was tired.
“Just as we hit the two-minute warning, I felt the pull,” said Theresa, shaking her head. “I ended up switching out with Emily. I was exhausted.”
For Emily Wise, it was a day of firsts. Her first tarpon trip, her first tarpon tournament, and by the time the day was over, her first tarpon.
The ladies won a $500 cash prize, sterling silver tarpon/lighthouse pendants designed by Kevin Donlon of Englewood Jewelers, team trophies sponsored by Englewood Glass and Mirror and their team leader’s name was added to the tournament trophy.
Coleman won a $500 cash prize, a box of cigars from Dolphin cove, a gift certificate to All About You and the Captain’s Trophy, sponsored by Englewood Glass.
Rebecca Riker aboard the Jill Marie with Capt. Dave Chatham had a busy day, too. Her three releases won her the prize of most tarpon released by one angler in the tournament.
“I had a blast,” she beamed. “My first fish was about 130 pounds, and the other two were right around 80. I had a great time with Capt. Chatham!”
In all, 37 boats released 21 tarpon.
Throughout the tournament, raffle prizes were reported over the radio, and Head Judge Sandy Bylaska kept tabs of each release.
After a two-year tarpon drought, Bylaska was happy with this year’s results.
“It went great,” she said. The event concluded with dinner, awards and music at South Beach.
After the ladies from Hudson’s and Riker got their awards, the art and theme for next year were unveiled. The artwork, by Kelly Reark Borza, shows a lady angler fighting a tarpon with Gasparilla Island in the background. The 2013 theme is “Keeping it Reel.”
The Ladies Day committee included Jill Chatham, Melissa Laterza, Larissa Wells, Nicole Coleman and Amy Prestia. They started planning the event in December.
“It was really a huge success for this year ... after all, they caught fish!” said Lew Hastings, executive director of the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce. “The ladies were happy, everyone had fun, the awards party featured some great food, great music, a visit from Colton James and a lot of good laughs. We are on track for an amazing 2013 Ladies Day, too.”
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