Leslee LaPorte has fished every Ladies Invitational Bluefish Tournament since it started in 1985. A diagnosis of breast cancer in 1999 and subsequent surgery in 2000 did not stop the 57-year-old resident of the Indian Mills section of Shamong Township from competing.
And this year, there she was on top of the standings and maybe on top of the world after catching the biggest fish on Saturday, June 18, to take the individual title.
So far she's doing very well and she said she is very lucky. She said she had a mammogram that saved her life.
"That's why I support this tournament," she said Tuesday, June 21. "To help girls (in this situation)."
This year's tournament added at least $42,000 to the fund that supports the AtlantiCare Mobile Mammography Van that provides free screenings to unisured and underinsured women, acc-ording to LIBT director Kim Kirk.
LaPorte's big bluefish weighed 14.61 pounds and was caught on Looken N Hooken with captain Bob Stele and mate Bob Conrad, both of Little Egg Harbor Township. Her crew consisted of Kathy Mascieri of Voorhees, Veronica "Rondae" Barbiero of Marlton and April Bailey of Williamstown.
LaPorte said she remembers the first year when the tournament had nine boats and the banquet was in somebody's house. She has a T-shirt and a trophy cup from the first year. She also remembers it was bad day and raining.
On Saturday, they were not catching anything early and decided to pick up and move to another location. She won the coin toss for the first fish and connected with the winner. Because of her experience catching blues, she knew right away that it was a contender.
LaPorte said she was "touched by an angel four times," which has to do with surgery and her twin 15-year-old daughters Kristen and Kimberly. LaPorte said she will continue to fish and support the tournament because it does so much good.
Tail Dancer was the winner of the heaviest three fish title with blues that weighed 11.33, 11.21 and 11.06 pounds. Erika Sue V was second at 33.41, Down Deep was third at 30.53, Driller of Atlantic City was fourth at 29.54 and Driller of Cape May was fifth at 29.02. Ten of the 57 boats entered weighed three fish. A lot of boats were shut out. Second in the single-heaviest division was Barrister at 12.53, followed by Erika Sue 12.52, Sturgeon General 11.64 and Tail Dancer 11.33 for the top five.
Shawn McGinley and his 8-year-old daughter Ashley fish together often and even compete in tournaments. So far, they have a lock on the Chelsea Cup based in Atlantic City.
Ashley won the first of the three Chelsea Cup contests when she caught a 3-pound, 1-ounce flounder in the Proud Mary's Sports Bar and Grill Tournament on June 5 and 6. And she beat out her 37-year-old dad, who also had a 3-1 flounder, because her fish was 20 inches in length and his was 19 3/4.
Shawn picked up a win Saturday in the Atlantic City Moose Lodge 216 Father's Day Weekend Flounder Tournament. McGinley had a 3-pound, 14-ounce flounder this time. Second was Sonny Smith of Atlantic City with a 3-7 catch and Steve Grohman of Ventnor was third at 2-8. Proceeds of the tournament go to the Moose Lodge Community.
Ashley is a student at Arthur Rann School in Galloway Township. Shawn said she knows her fishing spots, baits the hook and wants to net the fish, so she is obviously an avid angler who does the work.
And the Proud Mary's title was not the first time she done well in a tournament. A few years ago, she won one at the Pleasantville Yacht Club, and finished in the money in the Proud Mary's test last year, Shawn said.
His wife Judy fishes with them a couple of times a year. His sons, Aubrey, 5, and Shawn, 3, also go out with them. But they are at the stage that they are more likely to be playing with the minnows than fishing hard, their dad said Monday.
But who knows, the final stop of the Chelsea cup is coming up July 16-17 with the Kelly's Corner Pub classic, maybe the McGinley clan can make it a sweep. It might be interesting.