Anglers Club Tournament yielded few fish….WITH SLIDE SHOW
By ANNE BOWERS
in the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club 54th Annual Invitational Surf Fishing
Tournament on Nov. 3-5 faced difficult weather conditions as severe
wind and waves battered the coast from a deepening low pressure system
that eventually became Tropical Storm Sean.
“The east facing
beaches were just awful for catching fish,” said Larry Hardham,
president of the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club. He described the
waters as angry and dirty, not the ideal fishing conditions.
storm system gave contestants every weather condition possible during
the three-day competition -- huge waves, ocean overwash, gale force
winds, strong undertow, torrential rain, and lightning.
tournament wasn’t suspended at any time, but participants fished at
their own risk. Only once since 1957 has the tournament been
called off and that was in 1990 when part of the Bonner Bridge
collapsed after it was hit by a dredge.
Ocean overwash forced
tournament organizers to move 12 stations at Ramp 27 during the very
first fishing session of the tournament. More were moved on
The undertow was so powerful that many contestants
spent their sessions casting lines with 8- and 10-ounce weights in the
water and following them down the beach a couple of miles, only to reel
it in, walk back up the beach, and repeat.
The fallout from the weather conditions was devastating for
to Hardham, “This year had the fewest scoreable fish and the fewest
points in the last 18 years. This is two years in a row of
There were only 437 fish caught that scored a
recent tournament low 1,036 points. Last year, which also had
weather, there were 597 fish caught that added up to 1,324
points. This is in stark contrast to 2004 when there were
scoreable fish that added up to a total of 26,799 points.
first two days of the tournament are team competition with 120
six-person teams participating, and the third day is an individual
event. There were 21 teams that didn’t score a single fish in
The winning fish for the team event was hooked
with only 45 minutes remaining in the final session. The
Surf Fishing Club won the event at the last minute by hooking only two
fish and scoring a mere 90 points. They hadn’t scored a
point in the previous three sessions. To see all the scores,
lesson here is to never give up,” says Hardham. “They got a
red drum that scored 88 points with 45 minutes left that won the
The tournament teams fished at all the beach
accesses on Hatteras, starting at Ramp 23, which is near Salvo, all the
way down to Hatteras village at Ramp 55 -- with the exception of Ramp
45 which is at the campground. Fishing stations were spaced
one-tenth of a mile apart. Organizers used a GPS in setting
the stations, making the distances as uniform as possible.
team event is comprised of four sessions in four different areas over
two days, with each team required to fish a high tide and a low tide on
both the east facing and south facing beaches. Morning
ran from 8 to 11 a.m. Then teams changed locations for the afternoon
session that lasted for 3 hours, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
site selections for the fishing teams were computer generated, and this
is the only fishing tournament that does it, says Hardham.
require that each angler has to bait, cast, and land the fish without
any help from anyone else, no matter the age or any
Scoring is done by a point system. Fish must be a minimum
of 11 inches in length or the minimum size requirement for that
species. As an example, a 14-inch flounder is not scoreable because the
state requirement is 15 inches.
Each catch gets a point for
being 11inches and a point for every additional inch up to 20
inches. Three points are awarded for every inch beyond 20.
are 20 species of fish that can be scored during the
Red Drum, Spanish mackerel, striped bass, blues, sea mullet, and gray
trout are common catches. Trash fish, such as sharks and
Thirty-one sets of judges worked the beaches with a
minimum of two people in each set for a total of 67 judges for this
year. Some, but not all, are club members. New judges were
with experienced ones. No set of judges had to cover more
There was a diverse collection of people
who judged the tournament -- from husbands and wives, grandmothers and
grandkids, retirees to college students. Some judge in the
tournaments, while others judge in several states. One
couple who judged celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary during the
individual segment, which was held on the last day of the tournament
requires fish to be brought into the clubhouse and weighed, which frees
the judges so they can compete. Contestants under age 16
enter for free. Winners are judged by weight, not length.
Anglers Club Tournament is the largest on the Outer Banks with 720
entrants. According to the club’s president, it is the
the world but hasn’t been recognized by the Guinness Book of World
Records that lists the largest ocean-fishing tournament with 697
There are 50 fishing teams on a waiting list trying to
get into this annual tournament, which is limited to the 120 teams that
are allowed by the National Park Service’s tournament permit.
This limit was increased about five years ago from 100 teams.
last new team that got into the Angler’s Club event waited for 17 years
to get invited. The Anglers Club plans to notify everyone on
waiting list by certified mail to confirm that they are still
Entrants do not need to be a member of the Cape
Hatteras Anglers Club to be invited to fish in the
This year, the judges and anglers came from seven states.
Of the 120 teams who participated in the 2011 invitational, 16 were all
from the 50/50 raffle, which was held during the open house at the
beginning of the event, were donated to the Cape Hatteras United
Methodist Men to help local victims from Hurricane Irene.
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