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Poor Girls Open a success as 447 ladies compete

(Aug. 23, 2013)  Ninety-seven boats carrying 447 lady anglers entered the 20th annual Capt. Steve Harman’s Poor Girls Open, held Aug. 15-17. A total of $91,840 was paid out to the winners.

Twenty boats fished last Thursday, the first day of the Open. Forty-nine headed offshore Friday and 28 when out Saturday.

“I think [the tournament] went fantastic,” said co-Director Earl Conley.

The Absolut Pleasure team released two white marlin and two blue marlin to take first place in the division. The ladies were awarded $32,000.

The Knot Tellin’ crew released three white marlin and one blue to finish in second place. The women received $19,200.

Fin-Ness anglers hooked and threw back two blues and one white, good for third place. The team took home $12,800.

Tournament record-size tuna topped the leader board in the division. Thirteen bigeye tuna were weighed at Bahia Marina on 22nd Street, bayside, on Day 1 of the Open. The largest was Jade II angler Stacy Thomas’ 261.1-pound bigeye.  The fish was worth $7,710.

“I don’t recall ever getting a tuna that big,” Conley said. “According to the records available to us, that was a record.”

Holly Melson, who was also fishing on Jade II, landed a 228-pound bigeye, which put her in second place. The tuna brought in $3,726.

Michelle Blanchard caught a 210.4-pound bigeye on Osprey. The third-place fish earned her $2,484.

“All three over 200 pounds was a record, as well,” Conley said. “There hasn’t been a big bigeye bite during the tournament in previous years.”

Christina Wells’ 20.1-pound dolphin won the Absolut Pleasure angler the top spot in the division and $7,710.

Stephanie Ostriski reeled in a 16.2-pound dolphin aboard Jenny Poo to finish in second place. She was awarded $3,726.

Thirteen-year-old junior angler Lily Phipps landed a 13.8-pound dolphin, good for third place and $2,484. The Aquadance angler also won the junior angler division and $500.

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

Women enjoy fishing in the tournament because it benefits a worthy cause — breast cancer research. 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. 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 Open is the first event of the Pink Ribbon Classic. The rest of the events will take place in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“A day of fishing can bring so many people together for a common cause,” Conley said prior to the tournament.

Capt. Steve Harman 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.

This year, tournament organizers and the Harman family presented a check for $67,500 to the American Cancer Society. The total donated by the Harman family through the tournament and other events over the past six years is approximately $390,000 mark. Since the Open’s inception 20 years ago, the American Cancer Society has received more than $600,000.

“I just want to thank everyone involved–Bahia Marina, Fish Tales, (owners) Shawn and Donna Harman, the captains, the mates and the anglers who participated,” Conley said. “They help make this tournament continue to be a success and a great charity event.”

Mates James Taylor, left, and Jimmy Ruppert help Jessica Cropper hold the white marlin she reeled in while fishing on Yellowfin last Friday. The marlin was then released back into the ocean.

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