21 1/4-inch ladyfish captures Driftwood Landing tourney's top award

Ann Hall

Driftwood Landing is a small partnership efficiency condominium located on the business isle on the Isles of Capri, originally built in 1979 as a "fishing camp."

As has been the custom for the last four years, the efficiencies' winter residents held their much-loved ladyfish tournament. It did not matter to the 10 fishermen in kayaks and boats that the water temperature was a chilling 61 degrees.

They were too excited to feel the chill of the water or the cooler-than-normal winter breezes that were the backdrop to this year's tournament. Laughter and enthusiasm filled the dock behind the complex as each fisherman tried to out-do one another to prove their skills at being best at catching ladyfish.

As is the tradition, while the men are out fishing, the women entertain themselves with drinks and appetizers. The girls have decorated shirts with the Ladyfish Lounge logo. There is lots of laughter while waiting for their guys to return. It would be interesting if the tables were turned next year, and the men sent the women out to land their own ladyfish. The ladies think this is doubtful though, as the guys have so much fun being macho, and the ladies just enjoy sitting back, laughing and awaiting their men's return.

For those who have never caught a ladyfish or don't know what they are, they have missed out on some of the best fishing fun ever. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, ladyfish leap when they are hooked. This is what makes catching them so much fun, so say the fishermen.

Ladyfish look similar to juvenile tarpon. Interesting enough, Driftwood Landing is located on Tarpon Bay.

Ladyfish are primarily found inshore in bays and estuaries, however they may occasionally enter freshwater. Ladyfish often swim in tidal pools and canals and form large schools that harass bait fish at the surface. Ladyfish are considered to be a sport fish, and not truly edible. However, they are earning the reputation of being one of the most fun fish to catch. The Ladyfish eats just about any bait, will jump when hooked, tears off with line from the reel, and run circles around the boat when hooked. They also school up in large numbers, making them easier to catch. Ladyfish have earned the reputation of being one of the best fighting inshore fish that swims.

Charlie Dawes won this year's event by catching a ladyfish measuring 21 1/4 inches while fishing from his kayak. Dan Schoenherr, last year's winner, presented the trophy to Dawes, whose name will be engraved on it. Dawes will be allowed to keep the trophy in his possession for a year. The traveling trophy will be returned to Driftwood Landing next year to pass on to the next winner at the fifth annual tournament.

The Driftwood Landing fishermen and their ladies return year after year and are said to be "living and loving the high life."

Contact Ann Hall at ahall7911@coconuttele.net.