Participants call it the most fun tournament on the Outer Banks!
A total of 70 teams will convene on Ocracoke beaches this week for the 29th annual Ocracoke Surf Fishing Tournament, to be held May 2 – 4. Informally dubbed “the most fun tournament” by anglers, the catch-and-release event is a long-running tradition built on camaraderie, the joy of fishing and the love of Ocracoke’s white sand beaches.
The tournament, which has become an Ocracoke custom that kicks off the visitors’ season, hosts about 420 anglers. Volunteers also travel to the island to serve as judges. Many of these have family and friends in tow, who have come along to enjoy the island life outside the tournament. After a long winter, Ocracoke residents are happy to see the island bustling with activity. The Hyde County Chamber of Commerce lauds the event, calling it a much-needed economic booster for the island side of Hyde. The event officially begins with registration from 2 – 5 p.m. on Wednesday May 2 at the Ocracoke Community Center. Team captains convene that evening for the Captains Meeting at 5:15 p.m., where they draw for station locations and get the final specifics for fishing sessions. This year, one of the specifics will be a beach driving permit.
Tournament Chair Woody Billings was pleased to see everyone coming back for the 2012 tournament – which means the new rules didn’t dampen spirits.
Spirits are typically high at the Kick-Off Party, which will be held at 8 p.m. at Howards Pub with live music by the Mighty Saints of Soul.
Lines go in the water on Ocracoke beaches at 8 a.m. for the first fishing session on Thursday morning. An afternoon session begins at 1:30 p.m. Thursday and lasts until 4.
Friday, lines go in the water at 8 a.m. and anglers will have Carolina-style incentive to fish hard. The Carolina Boys – who have catered the tournament all years but the first – will deliver sausage wraps to the teams. The afternoon session will see lines in the water from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Entertainment Thursday night will take place at Howards Pub with D.J. Buster.
That evening, Carolina Boys will be fixing a barbecue dinner with all the trimmings, for anglers, guests and visitors at the Community Center, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The center serves as a hub of activity throughout the entire tournament and is open to the public for folks who want to buy a t-shirt, raffle ticket or check the tournament scoreboard.
Awards will be presented, along with raffle drawings, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Friday night. Anglers will win honors for largest fish, top lady team, top overall team
In addition to giving island industries some business, the OISFT Association gives substantial funding to local civic groups. In 2010, a total of $5,000 was donated to the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, Ocracoke Youth Center, Ocracoke Child Care and the Sigma Willis Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Text by Megan S. Shaw, Hyde County PIO
TOP PHOTO: Anglers lined Ocracoke beach during the 2011 Ocracoke Surf Fishing Tournament. (M. Shaw photo)
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