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Anglers from Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties have been participating in the Trident Fishing Tournament for 53 years. Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

The Trident Fishing Tournament, a big part of the fishing community in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties, has ended after 53 years.

Dr. Robert B. "Buddy" Leman, who chaired the event for many years, said the tournament committee decided it could no longer run the event after Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) decided to discontinue providing administrative support for receiving entry cards and maintaining the database, citing declining interest and participation by local anglers.

"The committee said that we can't do it without (CCPRC)  support," Leman said. "I hate to say it died under my watch but it did. If somebody could help and give us (the administrative support) we would love to work with them and figure out a way to make it work."

The tournament began more than five decades ago, modeled after the Miami Metropolitan Fishing Tournament. It recognized outstanding catches made in the waters of Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties and offshore catches made by boats leaving from and returning to port between the South Santee and South Edisto rivers. It evolved through the years, and in its latest format ran year-round, ending each year on Oct. 31 and beginning again Nov. 1.

Leman said the 15-member tournament committee tried various changes to the tournament, including an online digital app in which anglers could photograph and register their catch. But nothing seemed to work.

"We were all volunteers and there was no way we could run this whole tournament. I hate to see it go," Leman said. "We need some sort of partial staffing to do it. If some corporation or state-type of agency could help we would like to revamp it. We've been doing the tournament for more than 50 years. We would hate to lose the data."

CCPRC recreation director Steve Hutton said in a news release announcing the end of the tournament, "We thank the public and the tournament’s many long-term supporters, and we have enjoyed working together to further the sport of fishing in our community for over 50 years.”

CCPRC also said the annual awards banquet will be held in January to honor the 2018-2019 tournament winners.