By Russ Lay on October 5, 2012
While the fishing was slow on the first day of the two-day event, the weather was glorious and for the first time in many years, the tournament returned to its hometown.
When the tournament first began in 1950, the teams mostly competed in what is now the Town of Nags Head.
As beach erosion chewed up the local shoreline and the number of participating teams grew, the event moved slowly north. In the early 90’s, team stations were spread out as far north as the Kitty Hawk pier.
By 2000, erosion had eliminated all stations in Kitty Hawk, most in Kill Devil Hills and significant portions of south Nags Head. The tournament was forced to add stations at the National Park Service’s Coquina Beach access to accommodate the 80 six-person teams.
This year, the tournament returned to Nags Head, thanks to beach nourishment, and all 80 teams were able to easily fit within the town’s boundaries with ample room for the teams to use wide stations. No Park Service land was required.
Another change this year was the addition of a new category for awards. Mixed teams were added to the already existing categories of all-male and all-female teams. To qualify as a mixed team, at least two members of team must be of the opposite sex from the other members.
Awards are given to the best overall team; best male, female and mixed teams, largest fish overall and largest fish for each gender.
An individual tournament is held on Saturday for anyone who fished in a team event.
Competitors come from numerous states, from North Carolina up to New York, and some teams have been with the tournament almost since the inaugural event — although individual members have obviously changed.
Points are scored based on the length of the fish caught. For any fish subject to state rules, the fish must be of the minimum length specified by the state for possession. The same rules apply to “slotted fish,” which have both a minimum and maximum possession length.
Fish not regulated by size, such as bluefish, must be at least 11 inches long to score.
While not required, the tournament encourages catch and release practices. Only live fish are scored and judges observe their return to the water once measured and recorded.
Including family members, well over 600 people are involved in the event with many from out town staying in local hotels and rental homes.
The tournament headquarters is at the Ramada Plaza in Kill Devil Hills.