By Peter Vankevich
More than 400 anglers from all over the region and beyond are descending on Ocracoke for the 32nd annual Ocracoke Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament Thursday and Friday.
The 426 anglers consisting of 71 teams of six will compete this week for trophies and prizes.
A new team this year will be Ocracoke Island Realty consisting of staff and home owners, according to tournament co-chair Woody Billings. This is a catch-and-release tournament that judges measure the length but not weight of each fish. Prizes are offered for most fish caught and largest fish in men’s, women’s and team categories.
Competition times are 8 to 11 a.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m. both days, with teams stationed on the beach from from the NPS campground to South Point.
Money is raised through entry fees and sponsorships. Over the years, the tournament has given between $5,000 and $10,000 to community.
Last year, proceeds of $7,500 was divided among the following: Ocracoke Child Care, the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, the Ocracoke Youth Center, the Ocracoke School for the Sigma Willis Memorial Scholarship, the Ocracoke Girls Scouts, Boy Scout Troop 290, Ocracoke Athletic Booster Club, the Ocracoke United Methodist Church and the Ocracoke Assembly of God.
This is an invitational tournament.
“It is one of the most sought after tournaments on the Outer Banks,” said Billings, who is also chief judge. “We are the only spring tournament and the uniqueness of Ocracoke is appealing. No team has dropped out in the past five years and I have about 30 names on a waiting list.”
Although there is a waiting list for teams, sometimes a participating team have a dropout from their roster and need an extra member. Woody suggests that if people are interested in fishing, they could go to the Community Center between 2 and 5 p.m. during registration today (Wednesday). They might get lucky to join a team.
Many of the teams have colorful names, such as the Beach Drummers, Misfit Mermaids, Queen Mackerels, Fish Lips, Pheasant Pluckers and The Pubettes of Ocracoke.
Last year, the Ridge Anglers took overall first place and the Rising Tides second.
Friday there will be a Pig Pickin’ beginning at 5:30 p.m. that is open to the public, and the awards party will be at 7 p.m., both at the Community Center.
Entertainment for the event starts tonight at 7 at Howards Pub with The Michael Clark Band, featuring Tracy Clark performing. Thursday, same time and place, will have The Jonny Waters Band. Friday 7 p.m, at the Community Center, the awards party will feature DJ Buster Nunemaker spinning wax.
Thursday: high tides: 5:55 a.m. and 5:44 p.m.
low tides:12:27 a.m. and 12:35 p.m.
Friday: high tides: 6:36 a.m. and 7:02 p.m.
low tides: 1:11 a.m. and 1:11 p.m.