Under the pressure of a significant and capable out of town contingent of amateur and professional anglers hailing from Oregon, Missouri, CA, PA, NJ, and NVA, Eastern Shore local boys cleaned the deck at the inaugural Cape Charles Queen of the Bay (QOB) pier fishing tourney this past week. By the end for the four day formatted tourney, Michael “Maddog” Guerra (Eastville), Jack “Blackjack” Barker (Oak Hall), Alex “Hardcore” Brown (Eastville), and Joe “Golden Boy” Gittinger (Cape Charles), would command four of the seven top spots for the pride of the Eastern Shore. The QOB Grand Prize division also featured the award of the long lost tiara of Lady Mary Boleyn (sister to English Queen Ann Boleyn) to the top female angler of the tourney. The tiara was believed to have been buried at sea in the Azores in the possession of her grandson, Thomas West, 3rd and 12th Baron De La Warr, who was returning back to Jamestown. West was serving as governor-for-life of the fledgling Jamestown colony when he died enroute on his second voyage back to the colony.Brown would take an early lead in the overall standings scoring with black sea bass, puffer fish, blue crab, and spot catches all in the Youth Division. Brown also held the “Ace” card, having made the first catch in the tourney, tie breakers in the overall QOB Division would be determined by the earliest catch. He only needed to match the surges being made by his “Lucky” teammate Barker and those being made by team “Limitless”, an LA based team being coached by renowned artist Leland Sharp. In addition to coaching his ace local boy contingent, Sharp was also competing in the Open and the Military Appreciation Calcutta Division (which he would eventually win, taking home the $140 purse collected via outside donations).
Gittinger and his team “Pier Pounders” were also in pursuit. Gittinger would lead his team to an overall 2nd place finish behind a Reston, VA team “Good Times”, whose anglers provided the bulk of the volunteers who assisted Special Anglers of Janie Pease Arc Angels team. Gittinger sealed up the top spot and sea robin catches in the Special Angler Division, taking home $100 in cash prizes and the coveted $100 gift certificate provided by Timothy Smith and Sons.The tourney eventually became a duel between Barker and Guerra, as they traded catch for catch leading into the final round. They eventually overtook Brown, but faced by additional threats of the eventual queen Sharon “Sharkslayer” Martin of Williamsburg and late registrant Nathan Bradford (Bellehaven) of team Chesapeake Bay Communications. Team “Fishful Thinking” out of Mechanicsville also kept the pressure on, primarily due to the threat that two of their young lady anglers were eligible for fifteen (15) landing spots on the multi-species leaderboard, vice only the ten available to Guerra and Barker. Michael’s brother Eric would also eventually jump into the fray on Friday, scoring an individual win in the Youth – Oyster Toadfish division, picking up the $50 purse. He would claim 10th overall spot after only two days of fishing.
As the tourney prepared for the crowning of the new “Queen” and awaited the arrival of the tiara from the ocean depths having not been seen since 1618, the seas and sky would put up their own fight. This seemed to have been foreshadowed by the presentation on the pier Thursday night by the Jim Baugh Outdoors show, in which Baugh presented video from his filming “What You See Above and Below” featuring filming of the Solstice Strawberry Moon Project and video footage of sea life below the Cape Charles Pier. Everything was converging into an epic battle between the queen in waiting, Sharon “Sharkslayer” Martin and the elements.
On the 4th and final day of the tourney, many had succumbed to an onslaught of rays, which ripped about lines like thread. Tommy Ertle fishing with his father Matt Ertle was the only angler up to that point to land a ray on Saturday.
Martin would eventually hook up on a mammoth ray while a storm began to ensue. Officials eventually raised the red flag in the closing round and cleared the deck. Martin had been on the ray for about ½ an hour before the red flag. Based on tournament rules, Martin was permitted to continue to work in the ray as the storm raged. The clearing of the deck worked against the seas and the sky, in that Martin had the full length of the pier un-hindered to drag in the beast. After an additional ½ hour of fighting, she landed the final catch of the tourney and the largest, a 35 lb cownose ray. The queen in waiting was given a standing ovation as she returned to the safety of the pier pagoda, at which point a massive lightning strike hit the nearby Cape Charles tower. The long lost tiara soon appeared with the battle having been won by the new Queen. Dolphins were also seen swimming nearby at the time.
In addition to being crowned “Queen of the Bay”, Martin would take home $300 of the purse and the Chris’ Bait & Tackle rod-n-reel combo (for the top shark catch). “Maddog” Guerra would collect the coveted Baily’s Bait and Tackle rod-n-reel combo, the Baily’s pier net, $150 of the purse and claim the overall QOB Champion’s Trophy. Malcolm O of team “Arc Angels” collected $100 for wins in the Special Angler black sea bass and crab subdivisions. Barker would pick up two rod-n-reel combos in addition to $50 in the cash purse. All other results are posted on the Fish Dispatch Live Leaderboard: http://content.fishdispatch.com/Leaderboards/2016CapeCharlesQOBLeaderboard.html
Special Angler Foundation and Fish Dispatch, USA are evaluating a return visit for the tourney for the first week of August, 2017.