71 fishing teams were all in a good mood Friday evening, April 29, as
the 33rd annual Ocracoke Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament came to
the beer, good food -- barbecue, black-eyed peas, potato salad
and cole slaw -- supplied by Jack Edwards and the Carolina Boys and
under the big tent at the Community Center’s awards party, groups were
in a mood to talk.
year, it wasn’t so much talking caught fish and the inevitable ones
that got away, but rather the great weather, the tournament’s great
organizing and the island’s hospitality that made folks want to sing
on the beach in April can be a challenge as it was last year with
strong winds and cool weather, but it was much better this year.
Cuyler Heath, who lives in Sneads Ferry, N.C., is the team captain for Teach’s Crew.
was originally an Ocracoke team, even though everyone now is off the
island,” he said about his team. “My father, Cuyler Heath Sr., was an
original team member as was Walter Conklin.
“I’ll be back every year till I’m dead,” he chuckled.
Cobb from Raleigh with strong Ocracoke family ties has been a member of
the Tide Runners of Ocracoke for about four years, and is a tenacious
angler, frequently seen bare-footed recasting into the surf.
Tide Runners is one of the first all-women teams going back to nearly
the tournament’s beginning. (Out of the 71 teams, 17 are
Over the past 30 years or so, the original team members retired and new members gradually added.
caught sea mullet so far,” she said Friday. “Everyone has a story of
the one that got away, and we lost a red drum before getting it in.”
Chum Springer, from South Norfolk, fished for the Virginia Beach Drummers.
caught a one-point bluefish that kept me from being skunked and to
have the other boys carry me,” he said. “Ocracoke knows how to run a
great tournament and a good party,” he laughed and plans coming back as
long as his health permits.
the Delaware Mobile Surf Fishermen, winners of last year’s tournament
and who finished this year in seventh place, didn’t mind being
not about competition, but the camaraderie and fun on being on the
beach which is why we love coming to Ocracoke,” said team member Barry
Delaware team participates in three tournaments each year and sponsors
their own individual tournament at Cape Henlopen and Delaware Seashore
people around here are the best, the judges are the best and everyone
is so friendly,” said Tim Wallace. “We come down here for the
whole week.” This year the fish they caught were sea mullet and
bluefish. In spite of their levity now, they hope to regain the throne
next year with some serious fishing.
finishing second and third several times, the Merchantville Fishing
Club out of New Jersey, finally won the big one, taking first place
with a score of 111 points.
Distant second was the Bud Light Six Pack with 76 points, and third was Team Daiwa with 67 points.
Outcasters were the top women’s team with 27 points, followed by the
Queen Mackerels, 22, and the Fishin' Pelicans were third with 22.
Bevan caught the largest fish, a 27-inch red drum, and Peggy Byrd
snagged a 19-inch red drum for the largest fish by a woman.
Greg O’Connell got honors for catching the most fish, 13, and four women caught four fish to tie in their gender category.
next morning at the Ocracoke Coffee shop, co-director Woody Billings
and chief judge for the past 25 years, couldn’t have been happier with
how things went.
He praised the National Park Service.
“ A-one,” he said. “I can’t say enough how helpful they are.”
Each morning, they would grade the ramp entrance sand to the beach to make it easier to get on, he said.
“They even had staff out on the beach walking around and greeting the anglers,” Billings said.
Total fish caught were 415 and 1,129 points; last year 303 for 1,035 points, and in 2014 399 fish for 1,394 points.
After expenses, the tournament donates the proceeds back to the island.
The groups that will receive money from the tournament will be announced in the fall.
year’s proceeds, totaling $7,000, were distributed to the following
community organizations: Ocracoke Child Care, Ocracoke Volunteer Fire
Department, Ocracats Spay and Neuter Fund, Ocracoke Youth Center,
Ocracoke Girl Scouts, Boy Scout Troop 290, Ocracoke School, Sigma
Willis Memorial Scholarship Fund, John A. Watkins Memorial Scholarship,
Ocracoke United Methodist Church and the Ocracoke Assembly of God.
(This article is reprinted with permission from The Ocracoke Observer. For more news and articles about Ocracoke, go to www.ocracokeobserver.com.)