Salty Angler 2009

Sharkathon 2009 came off without a hitch, unless you take into account sideways rain falling early in the tournament that had many participants waking up with soggy sleeping bags.  The tournament began in 2004 when some surf fishing friends of mine decided to create a non-profit “Catch Photo and Release” Fishing Tournament They hoped their tournament would promote and educate more fishermen and shark fishermen in particular, on the merits of Catch-Photo and Release (CPR) fishing. Since that first tournament with 50 participants and $2,500 in cash and prizes, it has grown to 583 participants this year with 400 entries in the Shark  category and another 217 in the Trout, Redfish, Tarpon, Ladies’ and Kids’ divisions with $38,300 given away in cash prizes alone.

In spite of some rain early in the tournament the fishing was reported to be very good with many fish caught. Slot and oversized redfish were thick as were the skipjacks. There were quite a few trout caught if you could get your bait past the hungry redfish and skipjacks with the preferred bait being live finger mullet. Some 45 sharks were caught with many Spinner and Blacktips. Several Blacknose and one Bull Shark were also caught. The longest shark and the big winner the 7 foot spinner caught by Thomas Hale and worth $10,000 (cover).  2nd place and $5,000 went to my friend, Gabe Goodman, with a 6 foot 9.5” Spinner.  Gabe missed out on big trout honors with a big mistake he made while fishing. The redfish were thick and most were good sized slots. While Gabe was tending to his shark rod when one of his “redfish” rods got a fish on it. By this time Gabe had seen enough slot reds so he asked the Park Ranger with whom he was chatting to bring in that fish. As it turns out it was a 27” trout and would have easily won that division! The trout division eventually was won by Stuart Richardson and was worth $3,000. Duke Washmon won the tarpon division with this 75.5 incher worth $4,000.  The redfish division was good for $4,500 and was won by Daniel Bussell. Nurse, Katie Evans took the Ladies’ division and $600 with the third largest shark overall, a 78.5” Spinner.  Katie didn’t enter the shark division. And finally taking top honors in the Kids’ division and $500 was Shelby Burkholder with a 60.5” Blacktip. Congratulations to all!

Speaking of tournaments, the 25th Annual Surf Cat’s Big Shell Fishing Tournament is scheduled for October 9th – 11th. Park personnel issued a press release that stated Superintendent Joe Escoto announced Padre Island National Seashore will not allow Surf Cats of Texas participants to utilize the National Seashore for the Surf Cats 25th Annual Big Shell Surf Fishing Classic on October 9-11, 2009.    Surf Cats of Texas event organizers did not obtain a Special Use Permit (SUP); therefore, tournament participants fishing within the boundaries of the National Seashore could be prosecuted if found to be fishing within park boundaries.  Signs will be posted at beach access roads notifying tournament participants.

I am not a big fan of permits but this tournament is not a nonprofit or charity event and it has had a reputation of a few folks leaving lots of trash behind. Park officials say they have to have extra rangers on hand in events such as these including Sharkathon. Sharkathon paid $1750 dollars for their Special Use Permit and they still paid out $38,500 in cash awards.  The top prize in Sharkathon was $10,000 and the biggest prize in Surf Cats is $500 dollars and a custom fishing rod. I have many dear friends who used to fish the Surf Cats tournament and would like to see its organizers step up with the permitting and trash issues. Sharkathon gives a great example of keeping the park clean. They actually took GPS waypoints and pictures of their participant’s camps and pictures of those same camps after the event. Those camps leaving trash, tents or anything else behind will be banned from future events. Now that’s the way to make sure your event  leaves nothing behind except for good memories. Maybe if the Surf Cats organizers could handle the trash issues they would receive a more favorable permit rate similar to Sharkathon’s.

Remember Mullet over 12 inches may not be kept October through January.

Bring out more trash than you take in and enjoy the resource responsibly,

Tyler Thorsen