September 10, 2012

Good weather and big catches at the annual
Hatteras Village Surf Fishing Tournament


The Hatteras Village Surf Fishing Tournament has had its issues with Mother Nature. For some reason, the tournament seems to invite unfriendly conditions — strong winds, big swell, and plenty of clouds and rain.

With Hurricane Leslie churning offshore, this year’s event, which ran from Thursday, Sept. 6, through Saturday, Sept. 8, threatened to hold fast to tradition.

But as luck would have it, the 72 teams that fished this year caught a break. Leslie stayed away, the seemingly relentless rain dried up, and the anglers were treated to a weekend of decent weather, good company, and great fishing.

“We were awfully happy that the storm stayed offshore,” tournament director Karla Jarvis said with a smile.  And while she noted that there was not a lot of fishable beach this year, she said that they were able to set up 80 stations between Hatteras and Frisco.

And from those stations, the 432 anglers who fished this year’s tournament landed an assortment of pompano, puppy drum, sea mullet, flounder, and bluefish — lots of bluefish.
More than 1,000 fish were caught over the course of the two-day tournament — almost all of which were released. 

And the good weather wasn’t the only surprise in this year’s tournament. A couple of teams came from behind to secure a place atop the leader board this year, but none came as far as the Rodanthe-based Hatteras Jack Anglers Club, which ended up taking first place, edging out the second-place Nags Head Surf Fishing Club by a single point.

It was a feat that team captain Stanley Steeley attributed to a lot of hard work, some top-notch, custom-made equipment from their sponsors at Hatteras Jack, and just a little bit of good luck.

The day before the tournament began, the team spent seven hours cast-netting for bait in the sound. They woke up each morning at 4:30 and drove down to Hatteras from Nags Head, and each member of the six-person team fished in each session of the tournament. But by the end of the morning session on Saturday, despite all their efforts, they had only caught five fish worth a total of 11 points.

Then, a lucky draw landed them at station Number1— the southernmost slot, closest to the Hatteras Inlet — for the final session of the tournament.

Within minutes of tossing out the first line, they had landed their first fish. “We fished thinking that every fish counted and we never stopped,” said Steeley.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Hatteras Jacks had caught 33 fish and amassed 108 points. 

“You never give up,” said Terri Padgett, Steely’s wife and the lone female team member. “If we hadn’t caught that last fish, we’d have been in second place.”

Incidentally, that last fish — a bluefish — was brought in by 18-year-old Joey Hindi, the youngest member of the team and a newcomer to the Hatteras Village Surf Fishing Tournament. Not only did Hindi snag the winning fish for his team, he missed winning the largest bluefish prize by a scant quarter-inch. Not a bad debut.

In the end, six teams and five individuals took home cash prizes, and many more took home great stories.  As Dan Oden, who helped organize the tournament, succinctly put it: “It was a big success.”

The final results of the 29th Annual Hatteras Village Surf Fishing Tournament:

Team Competition winners, Men’s Division:
1st Place:  Hatteras Jack Anglers Club, Rodanthe, N.C.; 38 fish, 119 points
2nd Place: Nags Head Surf Fishing Club, Nags Head, N.C.: 51 fish, 118 points
3rd Place:  McClammers, Dunn, N.C.: 36 fish, 91 points

Team Competition winners, Women’s Division:
1st Place: Fishtales, Kill Devil Hills, N.C.: 24 fish, 60 points
2nd Place: Rod Runners, Frisco, N.C.: 26 fish, 52 points
3rd Place: Hatteraskals, Frisco, N.C.: 22 fish, 44 points

Largest Bluefish:
Men’s Division: Buddy Jeanette, 18 inches
Women’s Division: Ashley Mintz, 17 inches

Largest Scoring Fish (other than bluefish):
Men’s Division: Keith Bowers, 18-inch flounder
Women’s Division: Sue Glass, 26-inch drum

Largest Trash Fish:
Keith Bowers, 22 -inch ray

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