Ridge Anglers of Kitty Hawk, first-place winners of the annual Ocracoke
Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament last week, had a specific strategy
for their top ranking.
“Fish hard,” said team captain Brandon Phillips.
total points of 77 with 23 fish caught bested the other 69 teams in the
31st year of this springtime event on the island. Fishing days were
Thursday and Friday, May 1-2.
“He was the rookie,” said team
member Bob Burgess, who took the honors for most fish caught by a male
in an eight-way tie. “So we made him captain. He caught five fish which
took us over the top.”
The Rising Tides of Nags Head took
second-place honors with 74 points and 24 fish caught. The
Merchantville Surf Fishing Club of New Jersey took third place with 56
points and 24 fish caught.
“The teams caught quite a few puppy
drum this year,” noted head judge and tournament co-chair Woody
Billings as he drove along the water line checking in on the teams.
“We’ve been catching drum off this beach all winter and the drum are
“We had one of our best winter fishing seasons
ever,” added Trudy Austin, official tournament photographer, who rode
with Billings all four sessions over two days to capture the angling
Sarah Fiore of Ocracoke caught the largest fish of the
tournament—a 26¼-inch red drum -- as part of the Misfit Mermaids team.
Her fish beat the largest caught by a man: a 26-inch red drum caught by
Tom Burke of the Hotliners.
“Inches matter!” gushed Fiore on the
beach Friday morning after her fish was released. Indeed, the
motto on the 14 pairs of judges’ T-shirts is “Size Matters.”
tournament is a catch-and-release. No fish are kept, but points are
awarded on fish that are 11 inches and longer and numbers of fish
“That was thrilling,” noted Libbi Worthley of the Blue
Beetles as she released a 25¼-inch drum. “I saw the tail shoot out of
the water and that spot on the fish, and I went ballistic.”
all the fishing is done the tournament celebrates with a pig pickin’
party at the Community Center, which is open to the community. The
Carolina Boys have been supplying the tournament with barbeque pork and
sausages since the event began, Billings said.
Team members mill around the front of the building studying the scoreboard.
don’t do well here in Ocracoke,” noted Brittany Coleborn of the NC Sea
Hags as she and team member Shannon Graf looked at their total score of
7. Although not the worst (eight teams had zero), it was not their
best. “We kill it at Nags Head,” Coleborn said of the October
tournament up the beach.
Several islanders volunteer with tallying the scores.
get to rush around and get all these scores ready for the awards
ceremony,” said chief scorer Dave Frum, in his ninth year on the job.
He was assisted by Phyllis Wall, Martha McMillan and Philip Howard.
Fish Lips, a colorful women’s team from Nags Head, orders all the
merchandise and awards and decorates the Community Center. They
also dress in a theme every year. This year, they arrived at the
party attired in orange jumpsuits as “inmates” of Ocracoke—jesting
about the presence of state police troopers on the island during last
Alan Sutton of Tradewinds Tackle gathers all
of the prizes—coolers and fishing tackle. Patty Plyler compiles the
program and works the merchandise table.
“It’s for the
community,” she said about the event which raises money for several
island charities. Last year the event divided $4,500 among
Ocracoke Child Care, the fire department, Boy Scout Troop #290, Ocracoke
Youth Center and the Ocracoke School Willis Scholarship.
Total fish caught over the two days were 399 for 1,394 points.
top female teams were, first-place—Sam & Omie’s Different Drummers,
nine fish, 36 points; the Misfit Mermaids, one fish, 28 points; the
Queen Mackerals, seven fish, 25 points.
Vallie Blakely of the OBX-Rays had the most fish for the females with five fish.
Session winners were first—Rising Tides; second—Hotliners; third—Blue Beetles; fourth—F-Team.
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