Back before I became a new dad and developed a true appreciation of free time, I suffered from a mild addiction to fishing tournaments.
Charleston is home to a ton of these competitions, ranging from family-friendly inshore tournaments to big-money, offshore affairs where hard-charging dudes try to outfish each other to win thousands of dollars in prize money. My buddies and I used to fish quite a few of these every year, including the multi-day, slow-trolling extravaganza known as the Fishing for Miracles King Mackerel Tournament.
I’ve only been able to free up time to fish one tournament, the small but fun Carolina Lady Angler’s Fishing for the Cure back in June.
Though I probably shouldn’t brag about catching black sea bass, I will proudly share that my buddy and I brought home first place for blackfish (a favorite target and meal). The 2.8-pound blackfish paid for fuel that day!
If you harbor a competitive streak — and still have time to actually go fishing — these local tournaments can add a dash of spice to your weekend. Best of all, you can feel good about plunking down some cash for entry fees — almost all of these tournaments donate proceeds to great causes.
Two great opportunities to indulge in a little competitive fishing are coming up, this weekend and next.
Up first will be LifePoint’s Hooked on Life Fishing Tournament, now in its second year. Inshore competition features a somewhat unique catch-and-release format, and proceeds benefit organ donation.
Certified by the federal government, LifePoint is the designated organ procurement organization in most of South Carolina. The organization actively provides organ, tissue and eye donor services to 62 hospitals throughout the state, and also helps support and educate families about donations.
The captain’s meeting and late registration will take place 6-9 p.m. Friday at the Charleston Maritime Center.
Competition will be 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday in inshore waterways from Edisto Island to Bull’s Bay. Eligible species include redfish, flounder and trout. Cash prizes will be awarded for longest of each species, based on photographs taken with a special uniform measuring device and unique scoring marker.
Scoring and awards ceremony will be 4-6 p.m. at the Maritime Center.
Fishing for Miracles, which for years has ranked as the Lowcountry’s most popular fishing tournament, takes place the following weekend, Aug. 16-18. Expect to see plenty of giant center consoles in town and on the water as teams of pro and semi-pro anglers vie for tens of thousands of dollars in winnings.
This year commemorates the 20th anniversary of the venerable tournament. Over two decades, the Miracles has served as a yearly get-together for the center console crowd and has generated plenty of classic fishing stories and bragging rights for local crews.
This year also marks 20 years of charitable giving by the local fishing community and tournament sponsors. Over that time, the tournament has donated more than $600,000 to the Medical University of South Carolina’s Children’s Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and to the Coastal Conservation Association of South Carolina.
Just last year, the tournament contributed nearly $30,000 to the two organizations. The money will be used by CCA to promote the future conservation of our marine resources and by MUSC Children’s Hospital PICU toward the purchase of a Telemedicine cart, which allows pediatric specialists to remotely examine patients in emergency situations.
If supporting these causes doesn’t spur you to action, consider this: Put just one giant king mackerel in your boat and you could win $25,000, plus winnings from whatever calcutta you enter.
Late registration will be 2-7 p.m. Aug. 15 at Ripley Light Yacht Club, with refreshments and supper at 5 p.m. and a captain’s meeting at 7 p.m.
Fishing starts at 6:30 a.m. Aug. 16-17. Weigh-in at Ripley Light will be 2-5 p.m. Aug. 16 (Friday) and 1-4 p.m. Aug. 17 (Saturday). The awards ceremony starts at 7 p.m. Aug. 17.
Reach Matt Winter, manager of niche content and design and editor of Tideline magazine, at 843-937-5568 or firstname.lastname@example.org.