By Joy Crist, Island Free Press
Despite strong northeast winds that gusted to more than 20 mph, the fifth annual Fish Like a Girl Tournament drew a large, pink-hued crowd to the Avon Pier for an action-packed morning of fishing and fundraising for a very worthy local cause.
The annual tournament is held the first week of October every year, and the proceeds benefit the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation – an all-volunteer group that provides support for cancer patients and their families who live on Hatteras Island.
2019’s tournament nearly tripled the 2018 tally of $2,300 in donations, and organizers reported that an impressive $6,415 was raised for the HICF at this year’s event.
The competition began at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and ladies lined the pier to compete in a number of categories, including the biggest fish, and the most fish caught. Though the ocean was churning with rough surf that made casting a challenge, a number of catches were landed from the pier in the early fall fishing conditions, including bluefish, sea mullet, pompano, drum, and sheepshead.
“[Despite] the weather, the fishing has been pretty good today,” said one angler from Virginia who was celebrating her second year in a row as a tournament participant. “I’ve already caught two blues… which is two more than I caught last year.”
At noon, the majority of participants headed back to the Pier House for a large lunch and an awards ceremony, although a few anglers lingered on the pier with a case of fishing fever. Avon Pier Owner Joe Thompson led the group in Grace before the anglers feasted, noting that “Regardless of storms… it’s the people who make this a great place to live, and who go out of their way to help their community.”
After a long lunch that gave the anglers a chance to eat, drink, and be merry, awards were announced, which included a long list of enticing and donated prizes.
Tammy Harrison landed the coveted Biggest Fish Caught award, with an impressive red drum catch that measured an approximate 24 inches, while Kelly Hendrickson scored the title of Most Fish Caught.
At this unique tournament, a prize is also given annually to the funniest and craziest attire, and this year’s award went to Tami Thompson, who sparkled in a pink-infused unicorn costume.
Prizes were also given to the youngest, oldest, and pinkest anglers, as well as the furthest traveled. Virginia Dare from Ohio won first place in the furthest-traveled category, while Kathy Willets of Pennsylvania came in second.
Though organizers stated that more than 70 anglers signed up online prior to the event, the overall attendance was much larger than that, with limited elbow room along the pier during the Saturday morning fishing frenzy. “We haven’t done the final tally yet, but I think we’ve had a lot of walk-in [participants] who just showed up today to fish,” said one volunteer.
In the end, regardless of the rough surf and windy conditions, the anglers reeled in an impressive amount of donations – and fish – at the popular yearly tournament where the ladies take charge.