Campisis have a reel good tale

Cayman may be bracing for another fishing tournament this month. But there are still good stories coming out of the last one.

Amber Campisi, 29, took part in the 2011 Kirk Group Rooster Shootout. She was one of 144 anglers that competed. Alongside her father Carlo, 62, she would walk away with the Lady Angler award.

Amber was born and raised in Dallas, Texas and visited Cayman for the tournament. She is the second member of the family to come down with Carlo and fish in a major event after family member David Campisi was here for last year’s Shootout. David in fact nabbed a 41.06 pound wahoo that was the heaviest in its category and earned Carlo the Overseas Angler award.

Interestingly the 2011 shootout was Amber’s first event and she states she thoroughly enjoyed her time here.

“The Rooster Shootout was my first fishing tournament and I had an absolute blast,” Amber said. “I wish the fish would have been biting more but I’m just happy I caught something. My favorite parts of the tournament were being lined up in the harbor on starting day, listening to everyone on the radio and pulling in to the weigh station. It’s always a party there and if you pull in that means you caught something.

“It was my first time on the bank doing drift fishing and now I can’t wait to go to 60 mile and Pickle. Being named lady angler was amazing, I know dad was very proud. To walk away with an award was a great surprise, considering it was my first tournament ever.”

The Campisis run a family-owned chain of Italian restaurants in Dallas, simply called ‘Campisi’s.’ The original location opened in 1946 and there are now five branches in the area. At the head of it all is Carlo, who goes by the nickname ‘Corky.’ He states that in spite of being well set up in the US, Cayman has a special place for him.

“I may own those restaurants but I love Grand Cayman,” Carlo said. “I split my time between Dallas and Cayman. I’m a West Bayer. I’ve been fishing in Cayman waters for 20 years but the last three years more recently because I have my own boat. I love the sport of fishing and love the guys I fish with and my captain.”

The Campisis had extra motivation due to a family tragedy. Amber’s sister Gina Marie Campisi passed away tragically in February 2010. At last year’s event Carlo wore shirts that commemorated her. The Campisis wore similar shirts this year but went a step further by calling themselves team Gina Marie. Amber spoke the effect of her sister’s passing on her fishing.

“I have a sister named Tara and her twin named Gina passed away in February of last year. This year we had T-shirts made and called ourselves team Gina Marie after my sister with her picture being on the shirts. The team members were my dad, our boat captain Bruce Bush, good friend Lenny Jackson and I.

“Last year dad’s team had similar T-shirts made with my sister Gina’s picture on them and they ended up doing very well in the tournament. She’s our good luck charm.”

Carlo took Gina’s loss especially hard and stated he wanted his daughter to experience Cayman waters while in good health.

“It, the shootout, was a first class event with a lot of good people. I just wanted Amber to fish this tournament with me so she knows how it goes, that way in case something ever happens to me she can carry on the tradition.”

Through it all father and daughter have bonded through fishing. The duo states that they will back in Cayman, looking to crow next year.

“I definitely plan on competing in next year’s Rooster Tournament,” Amber said. “It was fun to exchange stories and have some beers with all the other competitors. Everyone was so real and genuine, that’s what I love about the people in Cayman.

“This was my second Rooster tournament. The way the event is run and the people involved in it make the event. I’m looking forward to it and hope we catch more fish next year.”