Suncoast Ladies Classic turns offshore fishing into win for aging foster teens

The first ever Suncoast Ladies Classic is coming up July 23 on Clearwater Beach, and it's the only offshore fishing tournament just for women. 

Tournament director Erika Almond has a passion for deep water fishing and said many women are anxious to get "hooked" as well.

"You never know what you’re going to see out there. You might see a great white shark, which I have. You might be swimming with whale sharks, which I have," she told FOX 13 News. "And no one can get to you. Your phones don't work. You are now with just one with nature. It’s just me the most exhilarating experience ever."

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An accomplished angler, Almond and her team recently won first place in the DogFish Tournament, and she regularly appears in industry magazines with photos of near-record Grouper and Snapper. But she said the Suncoast Ladies Classic welcomes everyone, even the novice ladies.

"If you don't have a team or other ladies to fish with or a boat, we will team you up with local tournament winning captains that will take you and teach you and show you what to do," Almond said.   

More than $30,000 in cash and prizes will be up for grabs, but the anglers aren’t the only ones winning. Tournament proceeds will benefit Ready For Life, the Pinellas non-profit that helps young adults who are aging out of foster care.

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"Ready for life does anything a parent or grandparent would do is what we say," said Cathy Mize, Ready For Life’s executive director. "Every day these young adults age out of foster care, really with no family, no support."

And they do that with job prep, life skills and a mentor program, to ensure they stay on the right path. 

"They've told us they want one person that cares they're alive, one person that will be on the other end of that phone when they text or call or just want to talk about something," Mize said.

BayStar Restaurant Group has signed on as principal sponsor and will host all tournament pre-and post-activities at their Marina Cantina on Clearwater Beach. 

For registration and tournament details, visit For more information on Ready For Life, visit