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Ricky LaPlace Takes Top Honors in Kingfish Tourney

July 11, 2004 – A little before 7 a.m. Sunday, northwest of Outer Brass, Ricky LaPlace hooked what he thought was a small fish while competing in the annual Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament presented by the Northside Sportfishing Club.
"At first there wasn't much pull on the line. Then, the reel started spinning off line and I thought the little fish was eaten by a shark," LaPlace recalled later.
When he got the fish to the back of the 16-foot island-built boat Toots, captained by Thierry Ledee with his wife, Shirley Ledee, as crew, LaPlace saw that he had reeled in a whopping kingfish.
"It took me about 10 minutes to get it in. When I did, I could tell it was big," LaPlace said.
And at 30.6 pounds, it turned out to be the biggest of the day's kingfish catches — winning LaPlace $2,000 in cash and a 12-foot inflatable dinghy with a 15 HP engine.
After having taken part in every Bastille Day Kingfish Tournament since the event began in 1987, "I was thinking about not fishing the tournament this year," LaPlace said. "But my son, Zachary, wanted to come out. He is 9 years old and finally old enough to be an angler."
And in fact, Zachary caught the family's first kingfish of the day. "It was smaller, but that started our good luck," his father said.
The 246 anglers (including 38 juniors) and 68 boats taking part in the tournament this year caught a total of 42 kingfish collectively weighing 379 pounds. The total fish catch was 147, with a total weight of 1,146 pounds.
The second-largest kingfish, a 23.26-pounder, was caught by Marielle Brandon aboard Sea Witch, netting her $750 and other prizes.
And the third-largest, weighing in at 19.4 pounds, was caught by St. John angler Pam Gaffin aboard Gone Ketchin; she collected $500 prize and other prizes.
Gone Ketchin, skippered by Capt. Grizz, won the Best Boat award with a total of 11 fish caught.
A catch of six kingfish earned Reid Brett aboard Donna Marie, the Best Captain award.
Gaffin was named Best Female Angler with a catch of 11 fish totaling 98.93 pounds Troy Danet on Sea & Ski #4 took Best Male Angler honors with three totaling 39.69 pounds.
Michael Gumbs on Lady Marie won Best Junior Male with seven fish totaling 43.09 pounds. Tiffanie Bryan on Urshe was named Best Junior Female — for the fifth time — with her catch of eight fish weighing 21.48 pounds.
Also winning prizes were Carl Gartner, for the largest jack; Louis Ledee, for largest barracuda; Mike Werth, for the largest bonito; Brian Werth, for the largest tuna; Larry Greaux, for the largest mackerel; and Edric Martin Jr., for largest dolphin.
This year, all prize winners except junior anglers were eligible for a grand prize drawing for a Caribbean cruise — with Gaffin the winner.
Herman Richardson and Kevin LaPlace Sr. officially weighed in the catches.
This year's tournament was dedicated to the late Joe LaPlace, a master fisherman with the Planning and Natural Resources Department's Fish and Wildlife Division for 35 years, LaPlace served as a tournament judge for many years, a role now taken on by his son Kevin.
Joe LaPlace's 11-year-old grandson Kevin LaPlace II was the youngest captain in this year's tournament. The youngster was at the helm of the Mighty Cha Cha, a 14-foot Boston Whaler left to young Kevin by his grandfather and named for Joe's calypsonian name.
Food and drink, fun and games, and health screenings were all part of Sunday afternoon's activities at Hull Bay Hideaway. There was music by Cool Sessions throughout the afternoon and by Sea Breeze at the evening awards ceremony.
Winners (angler, weight, boat)
Kingfish:
1. Ricky LaPlace, 30.6 lbs., Toots
1. Marielle Brandon, 23.26 lbs., Sea Witch
3. Pam Gaffin, 19.4 lbs., Gone Ketchin
Best Boat — Capt. Grizz, 11 fish, Gone Ketchin
Best Captain — Reid Brett, 6 kingfish, Donna Marie
Best Female — Pam Gaffin, Gone Ketchin
Best Male — Troy Danet, See & Ski #4
Best Junior Male — Michael Gumbs, Lady Marie
Best Junior Female — Tiffanie Bryan, Urshe
Largest Jack — Carl Gartner, 14.12 lbs., Alchemist
Largest Barracuda — Louis Ledee, 18.6 lbs., Contender
Largest Bonito — Mike Werth, 3.08 lbs., Bonito Blaster
Largest Tuna — Brian Werth, 13.46 lbs., Bonito Blaster
Largest Mackerel — Larry Greaux, 5.84 lbs., Mary Rose
Largest Dolphin — Edric Martin Jr., 5.73 lbs., Manta Ray

This year's sponsors and major donors were Coors Light, Snapple and Paradise Rum, distributed by Bellows International; Yanmar, Yamaha and Caribe, distributed by Offshore Marine; FedEx; N.E.M. (West Indies) Insurance, managed by Red Hook Agencies; and Royal Caribbean International.

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