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Ladies-only fishing competition benefits breast cancer research

(Aug. 9, 2013) Female anglers will lead the charge next week as hundreds are expected to participate in the 20th annual Capt. Steve Harman’s Poor Girls Open, Aug. 15-17.

Women enjoy fishing in the tournament because it benefits a worthy cause — breast cancer research, said co-director Earl Conley. Proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society and earmarked for breast cancer research and program development, under the “Pink Ribbon Classic” — a series of local events that benefit the organization.

Many women participate in the event annually, including cancer survivors. Although it is a competition, there is camaraderie among the lady anglers.

“A day of fishing can bring so many people together for a common cause,” Conley said. “Ladies really resonate with breast cancer. It’s an opportunity to show their involvement and raise some money.”

The cost to enter the tournament is $450 per boat for up to three anglers. Other anglers may be added at $50 each (six-woman crew maximum per boat).

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three teams with the most billfish release points. White marlin and sailfish releases are worth 100 points each, while blue marlin and swordfish releases earn anglers 110 points. Anglers who boat the three heaviest tuna and dolphin will also received cash prizes.

There are added entry levels for billfish releases, tuna and dolphin. Girls 16 and younger may compete in the junior angler division.

“The white marlin bite turned out just in time for the White Marlin Open and anglers are still catching bigeye. There’s also a couple yellowfin packs out there as well as dolphin,” Conley said Monday. “There’s a variety of different things out there anglers can catch. Hopefully, the warm water will stay close.”

Registration for the tournament will begin at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Bahia Marina, 22nd Street on the bay. A captains’ meeting will follow.

Anglers may fish one of the three days: Thursday, Aug. 15, Friday, Aug. 16, or Saturday, Aug. 17. Weigh-ins will take place daily, from 4-7:30 p.m., at the marina.

Pink Ribbon merchandise will be for sale and auction items will be set up near the weigh-in scale in the Bahia Marina/Fish Tales parking lot for anyone who wants to bid. There will also be a 50/50 raffle. Donations will be accepted, as well.

An awards luncheon is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 18, at the Marlin Club in West Ocean City.

Money raised during the tournament is donated to the American Cancer Society and earmarked for breast cancer research and program development. While some of the money is used for research on a national level, the remainder stays in the area to assist in local breast cancer awareness and patient programs and services.

The competition has grown since its inception — eight boats participated in the first tournament and in 2012, 108 vessels carried 499 female anglers offshore. A total of $95,980 was paid out to the 2012 winners. Last year’s attendance was up from the 88 boats and 403 anglers that fished in 2011 when $81,390 was awarded to the top teams.

In 2012, the Harman family presented the American Cancer Society with a check for $62,500 during the tournament’s awards ceremony.

Approximately $9,000 of the contribution came from money raised during Fish Tales’ summerlong cornhole competition, as well as its third annual “Clamming for a Cure” contest in July. The total donated by the Harman family through the tournament and other events over the past five years is about $312,000.

In 2004, the tournament was renamed to honor the founder of the event, the late Capt. Steve Harman. He and his wife, Pam, started the Poor Girls Open in 1994 to provide women with an opportunity to compete for prizes and money in a ladies-only tournament and to raise money for local charities. Harman died in February 2004, so organizers thought it was appropriate the tournament be renamed in his memory.

For more information about the event, call Bahia Marina at 410-289-7438.

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