“That was the best thing about it,” Jill said. “We really didn’t know we were in the running to win. When we hooked and released that second fish, we had no idea we were in first ... at all. The feeling we had when we realized we were in first, it was amazing. We released our first fish in about nine minutes, and it was definitely the booty-shaking music that did it. We got our second one released in about two minutes. I wasn’t even in the chair when Dave (the captain, Jill’s husband) asked if we were there to party or to fish. So I jumped in the chair, dropped down to green and immediately got a fish on.”
It was a great birthday present for teammate Melissa Joiner-Steyer as well. Other anglers on the boat included Julianne Greenberg and Mary Anne Hastings.
In all, the team received $4,050 and pearl-and-silver tarpon necklaces from Salt Tales Jewelry by Angie Mills.
Second place was taken by the anglers Holly Buechler, Sarah Bowdell, Kristie Kita and Kristi Coleman aboard Faithful II with Capt. Matt Coleman. They received $2,700 and silver tarpon bracelets from Barbara Anne’s Jewelry.
Third place, which went to the boat with the last fish on and not in first or second place, was the Boca Blue with Capt. Sandy Melvin and anglers Kammie Shaw, Laura Shaw, Robin Melvin and Melina Chaplin.
They received $1,800 and silver tarpon pendants from Special Effects.
Of the 18 boats on the water for the tournament, 13 of them caught fish.
“It was a really exciting tournament from a competitive standpoint, and congratulations to Capt. Dave Chatham and his team,” said Capt. Sandy Melvin, owner of Gasparilla Outfitters and the tournament’s coordinator. “At one point there were seven or eight boats tied with one fish, and almost everybody was in the hunt that night for the win. It was a slow start but, by the end, half of the field or more was in the running, and ultimately the winner was decided in the last seconds of the tournament.”
Boca Blue, Melvin’s boat, got the potential winning tarpon on just as the clock turned to 10 p.m., the official tournament end time. As the head judge announced the tournament was over, Melvin was on the radio saying, “Boca Blue, fish on.” It was angler Laura Shaw with the hook-up.
“It goes to show you not only how exciting these tournaments can be, but how crucial the role of the observer is,” Melvin said. “While it seemed to many of the captains around me that our boat may have hooked up just prior to the tournament’s end, it was unclear because Smitty and I were both talking over each other on the radio as he was calling the tournament’s end. So, as a “tie-breaker,” we went with our observer’s official time as we hooked up, which showed 10 p.m. on her phone. That meant the catch was disqualified because it wasn’t hooked up prior to the 10 p.m. deadline.”
The tournament also raised approximately $1,500 for Boca Grande’s Relay For Life team.
“Everybody seemed to have a great time, and we raised about $1,500 for Relay For Life at the same time,” Melvin said. “And, since that charity seems to be popular among the anglers we had this year, we’re going to do it again next year.”
The average release time for tarpon caught during the tournament was six minutes.
“We’re proud of the captains and anglers’ efforts to release the fish as fast as possible, resulting in healthier fish,” Melvin said.
Complete results are as follows:
Blaze, angler Angie Mills, hooked 8:07 p.m., released 8:18 p.m.
Faithful II, angler Holly Buechler, hooked 8:23 p.m., released 8:28 p.m.
Miss Sarah, angler Peyton Bethel, hooked 8:36 p.m., released 8:48 p.m.
Boca Blue, angler Melina Chaplin, hooked 8:37 p.m., released 8:53 p.m.
Little Spook, angler Stephanie Cole, hooked 8:45 p.m., released 8:54 p.m.
Hey, Moma!, angler Julia Kelley, hooked 8:46 p.m., released 8:47 p.m.
Jill Marie, angler Jill Chatham, hooked 8:47 p.m., released 8:56 p.m.
Tracy Lynn, angler Barbara Rochester, hooked 8:59 p.m., released 9:01 p.m.
Family Tradition, angler Leslie Edwards, hooked 9:02 p.m., released 9:11 p.m.
Squaw, angler Heather Sovan, hooked 9:06 p.m., released 9:10 p.m.
Sitarah, angler Barbara Resmondo, hooked 9:20 p.m., released 9:24 p.m.
Reel Boca, angler Stacy Seitz, hooked 9:24 p.m., released 9:28 p.m.
Dylan Marie, angler Lindsey Tumlinson, hooked 9:37 p.m., released 9:44 p.m.
Jill Marie, angler Jill Chatham, hooked 9:41 p.m., released 9:43 p.m.
Faithful II, angler Kristi Coleman, hooked 9:42 p.m., released 9:47 p.m.
Boca Blue, angler Kammie Shaw, hooked 9:51 p.m., released 9:54 p.m.
For more pictures from the tournament, go to bocabeacon.com and click on the “media” tab.
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