This year’s Spring Fishing Tournament is set Saturday, May 10, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it will be hosted for the first time by Old Inlet Bait and Tackle.
In the past, the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce has hosted the event. According to Clark Evans, tournament coordinator, the Chamber recently approached Old Inlet and asked if they’d like to take it over.
Evans said this was, in part, due to the increase in fees for four-wheel drive beach driving permits to $60 for non-residents and $30 for residents, as well as the fact that fishing licenses are now required for all anglers age 16 and older. The added licensing requirements made the hosting of the tournament by a bait-and-tackle shop all the more efficient, leading to the change.
The new annual fishing license fee is $10 for Delaware residents and $21.50 for non-residents. Seven-day tourist licenses are available for $12.50 and licenses will be available for purchase at check-in for the tournament.
“We’re excited. We run a tournament in the fall, so they knew we’d have the ability to do it. We had to get the thing together in eight weeks, but it was a pretty turn-key tournament. There were not many adjustments to make, and it was an easy transition,” said Evans.
Changes for this year include the separation of the previous family category — a change Evans said has allowed the women’s and children’s categories to grow.
“It used to be there was a family category, which made it a little hard to score,” said Evans. “What we saw with our fall tournament was that once we separated them, it’s growing more and more,” he noted.
There is an open division for men and women ages 16 and older; a ladies’ division for females 16 and older; and a kids’ division for those 15 or younger.
“We have increased our prizes for kids,” Evans emphasized, “so usually every kid gets a prize, and our prizes have increased interest tremendously.”
He added that women really like having their own division. He said organizers have quietly been waiting for a woman to win it all. “It will happen,” he predicted with a laugh.
For people new to the tournament or to fishing, Evans suggested the walk-on beach at Conquest Road as a good spot to try this weekend, because it is usually the least crowded and is easy to access. He also shared a newcomer success story.
“A couple years ago we had some guys from Wilmington come down to Conquest who had seen an article in the paper about the tournament. They had no clue,” he said. “We spent about a half-hour getting them situated, and they went on to catch the biggest fish of the tournament and win a $1,000!”
Despite rising gas prices and an uncertain economy, Evans said this year they already have about 220 pre-registrations and are looking forward to more.
“Typically, 45 percent register the day before, because they are waiting out the weather. But to have this many ahead of time is a good thing.”
Registrations can be made at Old Inlet Bait and Tackle on Friday, May 9, from noon to 8 p.m. or Saturday, May 10, from 5 to 7 a.m. No registrations will be accepted after tournament fishing hours begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday.
For men and women 16 and older, the cost to register is $25. There is no charge for kids 15 or younger, but they still must be registered. All of those 16 or older who are fishing must have a state license. For more information on registration, prizes and beach rules, visit www.oldinlet.com online or call (302) 227-7974.