At the kickoff night of the Babylon Tuna Club’s 56th Annual Invitational Tuna Tournament last Thursday, clouds rolled in and the sky poured. But the bad weather didn't last throughout, and Sunday the sun shined as boats came to shore for the final weigh-ins.
According to Brian Legerlotz, chairman of the club, 3,000 spectators came out to the Babylon Village Municipal Dock to join the weekend-long festivities. Although weather reports caused nine boats to withdraw from the tournament, 20 remained to compete in eight different categories.
“I'm glad enough people stay involved every year,” said Chris Cannella, a 36-year-old spectator from Babylon who brought his 4-year-old daughter, Sofia, to see all the fish.
In one of the closest contests, Anthony Romano of the boat My Girls, captained by Jim Flynn, caught a 43-pound tuna Saturday to take the lead in the day boat tuna category. But Romano’s catch fell to second place after Jason Bernstein from the boat Reel Magic nabbed a 44.4-pounder Sunday.
“We felt more than a little bummed,” said My Girls crew member Phil Jennette of the loss, after the team had barely made it back in time Saturday because of boat troubles.
Almost all of the fish caught during the tournament was donated to the American Legion Post 94 of Babylon, which supports active troops and local veterans. The fish, cut by professionals and sold fresh at the docks, nearly sold out.
“The fish they are donating are worth a lot of money ... the captains are very generous,” said Al Engevik, a commander with the post, which has not yet determined how much money was made from the fish sales.
New York State Assemb. Joseph S. Saladino (R-Massapequa), a member of the Committee on Environmental Conservation, said the tournament is not only an economic stimulus for the town, but also encourages environmental concern.
“There's nothing better than a tuna tournament to teach people about the environment,” Saladino said, “... and the fact that the captains are donating their fish to the Legion -- it’s just great.”
1st place: Bob Hindenlang on Wasabi, 59.10 lb. yellowfin tuna
2nd place: Joe Kasencheck on Loctite, 51 lb. yellowfin tuna
Overnight Dolphinfish (mahi-mahi):
1st place: Bob Tyree on Gomatia, 12.7 lb.
Day Boat Tuna:
1st place: Jason Berstein on Reel Magic, 44.45 lb. yellowfin tuna
2nd place: Anthony Romano on My Girls, 43 lb. yellowfin tuna
Day Boat Bluefin Tuna:
No fish caught
Day Boat Shark:
1st place: Justin “Squishy” McGinn on Channel Fever, 151 lb. mako shark
1st place: John Thomas on Reel Time, 3.20 lb.
2nd place: Tony Coluccio on Reel Time, 3.10
1st place: Mike Murillo on Island Gal, 12.50 lb.
2nd place: Charlie Margarita on Island Gal, 10.20 lb.
Inshore Striped Bass:
No fish caught
Photo by Amanda Ostuni. Artie Baldwin, far left, of the Babylon Tuna Club,, with the crew of My Girls, which caught the 43-pound tuna that won second place in the day boat tuna category of the club's 56th Annual Invitational Tuna Tournament held Thursday through Sunday at the Babylon Village Municipal Dock. The crew consisted of Lauren Jers, front, and, from left, Jim Jers, next to Artie, Phil Jennette, Jim Flynn and Anthony Romano. (July 29, 2012)