November 9, 2012
Outer Banks Angling:  Tournaments and foul weather


At times I swear it seems that fishing tournaments are synonymous with foul weather.

For five years my friend, Tommy Wheeler, and I hosted a surf-fishing tournament for striped bass on Hatteras Island. It seemed that almost every year the weather would get nasty just prior to and during the tournament.

We see it over and over during offshore boat tournaments -- stories of boats punching through a fierce and furious inlet to go look for the big money.

And, no, I don't think the tournaments are cursed, nor do I think that it is given that the tournaments will bring foul weather.

But it sure feels that way sometimes.

I guess in the end it just adds to the competition.

Those who fish hard in bad weather or can better tolerate the foul weather would more than likely have a good chance of placing or winning.

Recently the anglers in the annual North Carolina Beach Buggy Red Drum Tournament had some weather to deal with.

As anglers came to town to find a fishing hole, check-in, and prepare for the three-day event, they found out there was a massive storm heading their way. Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on Hatteras Island and most of the northeastern seaboard.

Sandy was dubbed a superstorm. Packing a wind field and wave range of hundreds of miles, the hurricane lived up to its advance billing.

From the very start of the tournament, on Thursday, Oct. 27, the conditions gradually diminished.

The swell picked up. The wind picked up. And the current got stronger.

The call to cut the tournament by a half a day was made and the awards banquet was moved up to Saturday afternoon, Oct. 29, so that the participants could have a chance to leave Hatteras Island before any potential flooding.

That was a good call.

Those who left after the awards banquet are some of the last folks who traveled Highway 12 since Hurricane Sandy passed.

Highway 12 was had many feet of sand on it through parts of Pea Island, and the road was damaged in several places.

Hatteras Island is now accessible only be ferry, though the North Carolina Department of Transportation hopes to open a four-wheel-drive only route between Rodanthe and the Bonner Bridge by noon on Saturday, Nov. 10.

Even as DOT was trying to get Highway 12 open by Thanksgiving, along came a northeaster, which wasn’t particularly remarkable, except the heavy seas that sent more sand and water on Highway 12.

The annual Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Tournament began Wednesday with fishing days yesterday and today and an individual tournament Saturday.

This tournament has a lot of history on Hatteras and goes back for decades. In years past it has brought in more than 700 anglers to the island.

All tournaments on the Outer Banks are important part of the economy.

The anglers in this tournament had to come in by ferry, but most of the 120 registered teams made it.  With any luck, they can leave over the weekend on the four-wheel-drive route.

Seas were heavy again today with huge waves on the east-facing beaches. The second session today was cancelled when the ocean lapped at the dunes at high tide. Organizers and anglers are hoping tomorrow will be better.

One thing is for sure -- the weather will never stop the hardcore angler. Messy weather or not, there will always be the local and visiting fishermen willing to try and win.

Foul weather in late fall can be a good thing for fishing. And I've seen and gotten word about a fair amount of fish being caught from the surf.

Plenty of small puppy drum have been taken, along with some speckled trout and some big drum. Bluefish and flounder have also been caught from the surf.

One thing that can be difficult to find after a storm is bait, and several friends have struggled to find it. It may take a little time for the shops to get some, since it can be hard to find at this time of year anyway.

The next few days will tell the tale of participants, fish, and weather cooperation for the CHAC tournament.

Go Fishing.

(Rob Alderman is the owner of the Hatteras Island Fishing Militia website and is a kayak fishing guide. Rob has 10 years of fishing experience on the Outer Banks, and is host of the “Outer Banks Angler” television show. You can follow more of his extreme adventures or contact him at

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