BY MARCY SHORTUSE - Capt. Steve Ahlers and his team aboard Spooked Again took home the first place winnings in the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce 2013 World’s Richest Tarpon Tournament, after catching four fish on the first day and four fish on the second day. The team won $20,600 for the eight fish they caught during the two-day tournament.
As he stood on the stage at the awards ceremony Friday night, May 24, and received the Jay Joiner Memorial buckle that is given to the best captain in the tournament, he made it clear that while the money was nice, what he held in his hands was worth more than gold.
“You just don’t know what this means to me,” he said.
The crowd seemed to agree with the conjecture that he was worthy of the buckle, as the voices swelled in unison chanting, “Stevie! Stevie! Stevie!”
Capt. Cappy Joiner and Betsy Joiner, mother of the late Jay Joiner, presented the buckle to Ahlers.
Anglers on his team included Kevin Fink, Tucker Boyers and Joe Vinson.
Coming in second was Capt. Waylon Mills and the Blaze team. They took home $15,360. Mills, a man of few words in most circumstances, had little to say when asked how it went.
“Well, I’m up here so it was pretty good,” he said.
One of Mills’ anglers, David Lefevers, had more than a few good words to say about his captain. He caught one of the team’s tarpon.
“We’ve fished with him since 2001 or 2002,” he said. “Through the good times and the bad times, it’s always been Waylon. There’s no better place than Boca Grande. We love it here, we love Waylon’s family and friends down at Whidden’s Marina.
“He’s a great guide, he’s always done good by us. I started fishing him when he was right out of college, he was about 23 when we started fishing with him. A good friend of ours played ball with him in college. I guess you could say we’ve watched him grow up.”
Anglers on the boat included Roger Otto, Don Bell and Jeff Fry, along with Lefevers.
Third place went to Capt. Mark Futch’s team aboard Sitarah. He and anglers Ron Slimp, Fred Enochs, Donald Anderson, Norman Cannella and Bill Edwards took home $10,240.
“We had 63 tarpon, all hooked in the mouth,” Futch said. “And I thought it was a very well-run tournament.”
Chad Lach, head judge for the event, said both days featured ideal conditions for fishing.
“In the first minute of the first day of the tournament, Añejo (Capt. Tater Spinks) had a fish on, and released it about three minutes later,” he said. “Then it was kind of spotty for the first hour or two, but in the third and fourth hours it was game on. It was pretty much that way both days. Both were beautiful days to be out on the water.”
Complete results are as follows. All information has been provided by the Boca Grande Area Chamber of Commerce.
There were 33 fish released on the first day, 30 on the second, for a total of 63.
Tracy Lynn: Day one, 2; Day two, 2 Spook: Day one, 1; Day 2, 0 Sea Hawk: Day one, 1; Day two, 3 Blaze: Day one, 2; Day two, 3 Short Drift Charters: Day one, 2; Day two, 2 Spooked Again: Day one, 4; Day two, 4 Twilight Affair: Day one, 0; Day two, 1 Knight Brothers #28: Day one, 0; Day two, 2 Spellbound: Day one, 1; Day two, 1Jill Marie: Day one, 1; Day two, 1 Hey, Moma!: Day one, 3; Day two, 1 Casuarina: Day one, 1; Day two, 1 Miss Sarah: Day one, 2; Day two, 1 Dylan Marie: Day one, 1; Day two, 0 Boca Blue: Day one, 1; Day two, 0 Sundown: Day one, 0; Day two, 1 Screwing Around: Day one, 1; Day two, 0 Libo: Day one, 1; Day two, 0 Savannah: Day one, 1; Day two, 1 Hula Bay: Day one, 2; Day two, 1 Budweiser: Day one, 1; Day two, 0 Añejo: Day one, 2; Day two, 1 Sitarah: Day one, 0; Day two, 3 Frohlich, Gordon & Beason: Day one, 3; Day two, 1
“This year’s tarpon weekend exceeded all of our expectations and we here at the Chamber could not be happier with the outcome,” said Lew Hastings, the chamber’s executive director. “The 63 tarpon successfully caught and safely released is a total that rivals some of the best in the history of the tournament. Anglers and Captains performed exceptionally well and the accompanying festival was a great attraction for families and visitors of all ages. This truly was a community event in every sense of the word.”
To see more photos from this event, go to the “media” tab on the top of the Boca Beacon home page and click on “photos.”
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