The Charleston Trident Fishing Tournament has been a big part of the lives of Lowcountry anglers for more than half a century.
Modeled after the Miami Metropolitan Fishing Tournament, it was conceived as a way of recognizing outstanding catches by people fishing in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties and recognized everything from bream to blue marlin. Anglers meeting a qualifying weight for any of the species included in the tournament would receive a frameable certificate and those with the heaviest catch in each category at the end of the tournament year would receive a plaque.
Here's how the tournament works: You catch a fish, take it to a participating weigh station for an official weight, then fill out an information card and mail it to the tournament.
Through the years the tournament has evolved and now includes a photo contest and a catch-and-release category. More changes are being considered, including ending the tournament altogether.
The tournament is administered by the Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission with the assistance of volunteers from local fishing clubs and avid anglers, and CCPRC recently informed the tournament committee that it no longer can justify providing the staff necessary to compile the weekly scoreboard.
The park and recreation commission will continue to provide meeting space for the committee and the Folly Beach and Mount Pleasant piers, but will no longer provide financial support for the tournament.
"PRC felt it wasn't getting enough bang for the buck," longtime Trident Fishing Tournament chairman Buddy Leman said. "This tournament has been going on for 53 years. (Participation) varies. Some years we have a great turnout, some years less."
But multiple factors are involved, Leman said. Weather can play a factor in the number of participants. Fishing clubs, which have been the lifeblood of support for the event, come and go. It's more and more difficult to find places to serve as weigh stations.
The committee is looking into ways to continue the tournament:
• Change the time frame of the tournament, which currently runs from Nov. 1-Oct. 31.
• Create an online/app format that would eliminate the need for administrative support.
• Modify the acceptable species list.
• Eliminate line/weight class categories.
The current tournament ends Oct. 31, and the next tournament won't begin until after the annual awards banquet in January. A restructuring phase will begin Nov. 1. Leman said people can email suggestions or support to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Maybe it is time to quit the program. We've been doing it for years and I hate to quit without a fight," Leman said. "What can we do to salvage the tournament? Can we do a web/app system? How are we going to validate records?
"It's a free tournament. I hate to see it go under. Entries have fallen. Is it a tournament that's seen better days? Or is there a way to fix it, something we can do to make this better and more sustainable?"
Those questions will be answered in the coming months.
SCDNR Open House scheduled
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources' Marine Resources Center will hold an open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the facility located at the end of Fort Johnson Road. Parking for the event is at James Island Charter High School, where shuttles will transport visitors to the Marine Resources Center.
Marine biologists, fisheries managers and educators will be on hand for this free, kid-friendly event.
Among the activities will be touch tanks with live marine animals, fishing and casting tutorials, a boating simulator, guided history tours, research vessel tours and more than 50 marine science booths.
Participants on the research vessel tour must be at least 10 years or older, and close-toed shoes are required.
Carolina Lady Anglers donate $15,000
The Carolina Lady Anglers fishing club made a $15,000 donation to After Care Essentials in support of the West Ashley service’s 30-year mission to help women recover after breast cancer surgery. CLA raises money throughout the year by hosting an annual fishing tournament, Fishing for the Cure, and setting up booths at boat shows and other fishing tournaments.
After Care Essentials, a local mastectomy products and services provider that also offers customer care and education, is matching the $15,000 donation. All the money will go to provide post-operative care for cancer patients who can’t afford the services or are underinsured.
The Carolina Lady Anglers has raised more than $200,000 in its 22-year existence. With its new $15,000 contribution to After Care Essentials, it has now contributed $122,800 for cancer survivors over the past 13 years.