Capri Connection: Luck was a ‘lady’ in fishing tourney

Ann Hall

As has been the custom for the last six years, the winter residents of Driftwood Landing Motel on the Isles of Capri held their much-loved 7th Annual Ladyfish Tournament last weekend.

The tournament was postponed from Thursday because high winds threatened to upend the kayak participants. When the tides turned, and the weather once again poured out her usual Southwest Florida charm, these hardy fishermen, some in kayaks and others in boats, seemed to have only one thing on their minds – that of landing “the big one.”

Laughter and enthusiasm filled the dock behind the motel complex as each fisherman tried to out-do one another to prove their skills at being best at catching Ladyfish. This year the tournament was won by Jersey John from Pennsylvania, who fished aboard Captain Dick’s boat Quest. JJ, as he is called by his friends, was able to land the over 18" ladyfish that won him the coveted trophy for the year and also a flood of cheers from fellow anglers.

Dick Schreier, Richard Young, Charlie Dawes, and John McHugh coming in from a full day of fishing in the 7th Annual Ladyfish Tourney.

There was no prize for second or third place, but had there have been one, the Quest angler Colorado Charlie from Wisconsin and Captain Dick himself may have captured a prize for their ladyfish measuring just less than 18 inches long.

Ladyfish were not the only catch captured during this tourney. The boat Lund Ladyfish, with anglers Toledo Tom from Michigan and Grand Rapids Gary from Indiana managed to boat three legal Sea Trout and ensure a good meal for the party that always follows the annual tournaments.

The boat No Name, that some call “gorgeous,” carried Runaway Ricardo and Helmsman Howie.  No Name came in empty after spending most of the three hour tournament time trying to land a huge Sail Cat. The three fishermen in kayaks -- Crabbie Ken, Dunkin Dan and Jiggin Jerry came in with good stories but nothing to show the crowds at the dock.

Ladies that make up The Ladyfish Lounge are proud of their fishermen. From top left,  Marilyn Thomas, Jo Latham, Carol Schoenherr, Marge Schoenherr, Barb Dawes, Mary Young, Jackie Schreier, Thelma Feldman, Louetta Goggin, and Nancy Britner.

“We are the real winners,” declared the members of the Ladyfish Lounge who put together lunch and supper for Thursday and lunch on Friday for the 30 or so residents of Driftwood Landing Motel, located on Snook Bay. Wearing their traditional formal wear, a dance was held Thursday evening into the wee hours bringing with it laughter and good cheer. There has been no date set yet for the next tournament. All of the ladyfish were returned to Snook Bay after being measured as is the custom in each of the ladyfish competitions.

Ladyfish are elongated, slender coastal-dwelling fish found in tropical and subtropical waters. They typically grow to be around three feet long. They are bony and not widely marketed for food. Often they are used as bait fish or ground into fish meal.

Tom Coon, left, and John McHugh  hold up the trophy and the winning fish in the 7th Annual Driftwood Landing Ladyfish Tournament.

When asked why ladyfish? “Because they are so much fun to catch,” was the common answer among the anglers.

Anglers talk about the ladyfish’s extraordinary strength and speed and how active they get when hooked. They are said to perform aerobatic jumps and be exciting to land. Ladyfish tend to be a plentiful gamefish so say the anglers.

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