• Winners Kandis and Wally Johns with children Brandon and Lacey. (GREG WALKER / Special to the Daily News)
  • Big fish winners William Watson and Kristi Egerer (GREG WALKER / Special To The Daily News)

Starke couple lead Lads & Lasses event

Record turnout for Wolfson bass prelim

Wally and Kandis Johns of Starke captured the Wolfson Children’s Hospital (WCH) 18th Lads & Lasses Benefit Bass Tournament Thursday with a five-fish limit weighing 22.36 pounds, winning $1,000. Their creel included the tournament’s second largest bass weighing 7.80 pounds that earned them another $500.

The Lads & Lasses set another record number of boats entries with 114. Last year’s number was 100. 

“We hope we will surpass the number of entries in today’s VIP & Friends tournament, and tomorrow in the main tournament,” said tournament staffer Edsel Smith. “We have 25 more sponsors this year also.”

A big crowd Thursday witnessed some impressive fish brought to the scales. 

Second-place Shawn Jannotti and his 12-year-old daughter Reagan of Green Cove Springs brought a limit weighing 20.97 pounds, including a 7.11-pound largemouth to take home a check for $750. Unlike the winners who fished spots in the river, Shawn said they locked-through to the Rodman Reservoir and tossed top water lures and plastic worms. 

Johns said they used everything in the tackle box.

For third-place William Watson and Kristi Egerer of Callahan, it was an average day of casting and catching until 15 minutes before weigh-in time, when Watson hooked and boated what would be the biggest fish of the tournament at 8.62 pounds. That brought their total creel to 20.13 pounds for a payout of $600 for their place and an additional $1,000 for the lunker bass.

Lee Stalvey and his mom Sarah of St. Augustine took fourth with a five-fish limit weighing 17.08 pounds. Rounding out the top five was Steven and Suni Phillips of Palatka with 16.98 pounds.

The tournament paid 10 places:

n 6th place – Travis Lain and Chandler Singletary, Jacksonville, 16.62 pounds, $250.

n 7th – Kris and Kayla Kadlec, Starke, 16.38 pounds, $200.

n 8th – Dale and McKenzie Wiles, St. Augustine, 16.19 pounds, $150.

n 9th – Rusty and Gay Fox, Palatka, 16.05 pounds, $125.

n 10th – Jeff and Rachel Deel, Palatka, 15.85 pounds, $100. 

The WCH VIP & Friends launched at safe light this morning. Weigh-in time will be at 3 p.m. at Palatka riverfront. The public is welcome.