Three blue marlin releases by a trio of Beaufort County anglers was enough to finish in the top spot of the 30th annual Alice Kelly Memorial Ladies Only Billfish Tournament on Sunday.
A total of 106 teams competed for trophies in each category, as the entry fees all go to the Interfaith Community Outreach Cancer Program supporting local breast cancer patients and their families.
But there is a cash jackpot for the biggest dolphin each year, and a team of anglers from Elizabeth City and Camden are splitting it among themselves.
With just a slight onshore breeze and very comfortable temperatures madefor a good day to fish on the Gulf Stream.
A total of 50 billfish were caught and released on Sunday, including 22 blue marlin, 22 sailfish and 8 white marlin.
The boats brought 22 gamefish for weigh-ins at the docks at Pirates Cove Marina on the Manteo Causeway, with 11 dolphin, 6 wahoo and 5 yellowfin tuna.
Bangarang from Wrightsville Beach, with Capt. Paul Spencer and mate Tom Peele, took the top spot with 450 points on fish reeled in by Regan Boyd and Samantha Polk from Bath and Danielle Oliver from Washington, N.C.
Other team members were Ellen Keadle of Raleigh, Katie Livesay from Glen Allen, Va., Wendy Murphy of Wallace and Joulyn Trent of Pinetown. The Spencer Yachts 87 is owned by Wendell Murphy, Jr., of Wallace.
Sandra D was second, followed by Triple S, Hammer Time and Trophy Hunter.
In the winner-take-all dolphin jackpot, Katie Lowe of Elizabeth City only needed 15 minutes to bring in a 45.2-pound bull worth $31,025.
Her teammates on the Smoker included Crystal Creef, Allison Meads and Melanie Stamper of Elizabeth City and Ashley McPherson of Camden, along with Capt. Brynner Parks and mate Mike Edwards.
Harley Meachum from Williamsburg on the Reel Freedom won the tuna category with 52.7 pound yellowfin, Austin Tripp of Richmond on the Marlin Gull caught the biggest wahoo at 38.4 pounds.
Caroline Walker of Mechanicsville, Va. on the Jesus Freak won the Paula Stanski Award for Angling Excellence with a white marlin release.
Last year more than 300 families were helped by the Alice Kelly Memorial entry fees, special raffles and donations.
“I’m just overwhelmed by the tremendous support of all our teams and wonderful sponsors,” said tournament director Heather Maxwell. “For 30 years now this fun tournament has helped so many and it really has a positive impact on the community. So I’m very grateful to everyone who make it all possible.”
The captains meeting is tonight for the 36th Pirates Cove Billfish Tournament, which gets underway Tuesday morning and runs through Friday.