Grab your pole, tackle box and your best luring techniques. Anglers of all ages are gearing up for the 27th Annual Fall Surf-Fishing Tournament held on Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8.
The two-day tournament, hosted by the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, stretches from the south end of Fenwick Island to the north side of the Indian River Inlet.
More than $5,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to contestants relative to a point system, including $1,000 for the largest fish. Judges patrol the beach throughout the tournament to measure and record catches.
“The points are based on the length of the fish,” said Chamber Events Manager Amy Tingle. An extra point is awarded for a clean release, determined by the judges. Rockfish, trout, kingfish and bluefish are among the headliners of the tournament.
A $750 prize is awarded to the contestant with the most points, with $500 for second, $350 for third and $150 for fourth. Families, women and children are all encouraged to participate, too. A ladies division is offered for the female angler who reels in the most points. Children’s prizes are given to top point scorers based on age groups.
“Everyone is eligible for the prize money, too,” noted Tingle, which means even the kids could come away with hundreds in cash.
The big prize, however, is a whopping $25,000, going to the angler who can pull in the bluefish that breaks the Delaware state record. Bill Thoroughgood set it over a quarter of a century ago, on Oct. 27, 1980, when he reeled in a bluefish weighing 21 pounds, 15 ounces, off Rehoboth Beach.
“Anyone can come out,” said Guy Hudson of Hudson Electric. He has been judging the tournament for 10 years now, mainly at the north end of the inlet. “The record breaking bluefish is what everyone is after. We’ve seen some big blues. One of the closest catches I saw was several years back. It was only a couple pounds short of the record.”
“So far, we have about 150 people signed up,” Tingle said, as of Monday, Oct 2. “Depending on the weather, the number could double by the first day of the tournament.” The tournament typically hosts 250 to 400 anglers, with registrations accepted right up to the 7 a.m. start on Oct. 7. It runs from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and 7 a.m. to noon on Sunday. Tournament prizes will be distributed at Chamber headquarters, just south of the Fenwick Island State Park, at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information and registration details, contact the Chamber headquarters at (800) 962-7873.