Girls just wanna have fun: Babes on the Bay fishing tournament
April 2, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
Updated April 1, 2011 at 11:02 p.m.
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What: 12th annual Babes on the Bay tournament
When: May 14
Divisions: Team with professional guide (any bait); team with pro guide (artificial only); team with non-pro guide (any bait); team with non-pro guide (artificial only); Babe-ette junior division (16 and under)
Registration: $80 fee per contestant to be postmarked by April 29, includes T-shirt, visor, tournament bag and CCA membership
Captain's meeting: 6 p.m. May 13 at ACND Festival Grounds, Rockport
Weigh-in: Redfish, trout and flounder catches will be weighed at the festival grounds will be from noon to 4 p.m. May 14.
Rules and more info: www.babesonthebay.com
Your rod and reel is in hand, wind whipping through your hair, and not a man is in sight to tell you how to bring those fish in.
Babes on the Bay is a women-only bay fishing tournament which boasted more than 1,000 participants last year, making it the "largest, one-day, unrestricted tournament in the United States of America," said tourney director, Karol Scardino. "And it just happens to be all women."
The Rockport tournament, a Coastal Conservation Association sanctioned event, had its humble beginnings 12 years ago with only 100 women. After her team won in 2002, Scardino said she was asked to take the reigns of the organization and make it what it is today - a fun-filled, no-boys-allowed "extravaganza." At least that's what their husbands call it, she said.
"There are a lot of competitive women here. I am a competitive woman," she said. "But I would say the majority who fish this tournament do it for the event - the camaraderie."
The key element to Babes on the Bay is what makes it so successful, Scardino supposed.
"Girls just do not like men telling them what to do."
In addition to that, she said she's cut out a lot of rules found in other tournaments and is very transparent with where the money goes.
This year the registration fee will be $80 , which will cover the $25 CCA membership fee, tent rental at Rockport festival grounds, garbage pickup, liquor license, electricity usage and the goody bag with T-shirts and other tournament paraphernalia. Money left over will be donated to Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Legacy fish restocking programs and other area event funds.
"It costs a lot to put this on because it is so large, but we're not supposed to make money. This is a membership drive," she said, adding that environmental responsibility is also stressed during the event. "We absolutely recommend that they only keep their tournament stringer - do not get your limit - come here some other day for that. And by contributing back to the restocking programs, it kind of relieves the guilt on my shoulders, too."
Safety is also important and with no major injury accidents reported in all her years with Babes, their track record speaks for itself.
Above all else, however, the goal is for participants to have fun. And with a small boat show, fashion and fishing vendors, women of all ages competing for trophies and other prizes and a captain's meeting to remember, that goal is easily accomplished.
"On Friday night I start out (the captain's meeting) by saying, 'Ladies, we are all babes tonight,'" Scardino said.
The next morning, at the break of day, the shoreline is cluttered with women and their boats to kick off the tournament, sometimes with a few confused men stuck in the middle of the mayhem, wondering who all these pink and lime-green clad ladies are.
"If men are smart, they won't even come here (to fish) that weekend."