OISFT Sees Decent Weather and Good Times for 32nd Event

Megan M. Spencer
Liz Nash and her sister Caroline of Virginia Beach Sand Witches
Liz Nash and her sister Caroline of Virginia Beach Sand Witches
Photo by Megan Spencer
Delaware team takes top prize, Showstoppers win female team spot.
In what seems to be tradition, fishers in the 2015 Ocracoke Island Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament watched weather models and braced last week for a nor’easter to blow during the two-day fishing sessions. Luckily, Ocracoke missed the brunt of the storm and a total of 80 teams lined the beaches to see sunny skies and mild temperatures for three of the sessions. Winds did kick up, but not until the final session Friday afternoon. 

If Head Judge Woody Billings could change one thing about this year’s tournament, it would have been more fish during the fourth session. But other than the weather, he wouldn’t change a thing.

“I’ve been doing this for 24 years and I have a great time doing it,” said Billings. The “friendly, colorful” people that come back year after year, as well as the local participants and sponsors, make it exceptional." He pointed out the excellent eats provided by Hank Edwards and the Carolina Boys, who not only make dinner for the entire community, but provide breakfast sausages for the teams Friday morning.

At this year’s captain’s meeting, as he briefed the group on stations and rules, Woody asked for a show of hands of who’s never “done this before.” Only one hand went up.

With that, he welcomed the new team, Ocracoke Island Realty. Six Ocracoke homeowners were selected to fish the newly-formed team, who’d been on a waiting list to enter the tournament for well over a decade. 

The new team didn’t get skunked, as they managed to score one point overall. But there were a few who entered the big zero for a final score. Like the Fish Lips, who claim to participate in the tournament just for the good times. 

Among the 80 teams, fishers often call OISFT the most fun surf fishing tournament on the Outer Banks. Teams decorate hotel doors, fly beach flags and then wander out in the community to patronize local businesses and share stories about tournaments past.

“It’s the camaraderie. Always the camaraderie,” said Billings.

Winds kicked up, gusting to 30 on Friday afternoon
Winds kicked up, gusting to 30 on Friday afternoon
Photo by Megan Spencer
For local businesses, it’s also the commerce. The Hyde County Chamber of Commerce has lauded the OISFT as a much needed economic booster after a long winter on Ocracoke Island. 

But OISFT gives even more to Ocracoke Island. Proceeds from souvenir and raffle ticket sales are invested in worthy causes in the community. Last year, OISFT gave back $7,500 to local organizations, including Ocracoke Child Care, the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, Ocracats, Ocracoke Youth Center, Ocracoke School’s Sigma Willis Memorial Scholarship, Ocracoke Girl and Boy Scouts, Ocracoke Athletic Booster Club, Ocracoke United Methodist Church and Ocracoke Assembly of God.

Results are as follows:

First place overall - Delaware Mobile Surf Fishermen, 89 points

Team members Keith Schmierer, John Meade, Tim Wallace, Steve Merrick, Andy Twardus and Barry Brittingham.

Second place overall - North Carolina Beach Buggy Association, 60 points

Team members: Harry Nash, Pam Smith, Frances Kennedy, Al Adams, Jeff Lukens and Bill Smith.

Third place overall - Team Advanced Fishing, 51 points

Team Members: Ryan White, Stanley Steeley, Gale Johnson, Scott Miller, Rolland Johnson, Tony Chirio

First place female team - Showstoppers, 51 points

Hazel Basnight, Judy Mullen, Karen Graf, Virginia Perlot, Karen Busciglio and Anne Greene

Second place female team - Fish Tales, 20 points

Team members: Dawn Fenyak, Cheryl Boyd, Jayne Loesch, Jan Woolridge, Kathy Stowe and Summer Bracher

Third place female team - Sam & Omie’s Different Drummers, 19 points

Team members: Shelley Rollison, Bess Pace, Joni M Idgett, Ruth Arnold, Terry Brown, Debbie Harrison, Judy Waitts.

Largest Fish

Male - Bill SMith, 30 ¼ - inch red drum, NC Beach Buggy Association, caught at station 68

Female, Karen Busciglio, 18 ¾ - inch bluefish, Showstoppers, station 53

Most Fish

Male: Stan Steeley, Team Advanced Fishing, 10 fish

Female: Virginia Perlot, Showstoppers, 3 fish (ten points)

Session winners

First: Merchantville Fishing Club, 19 points

Second: Delaware Mobile Surf Fishing, 77 points

Third: Showstoppers, 40 points

Fourth: NC Beach Buggy Association, 47 points

Total fish

Thursday morning: 69 fish, 220 points scored

Thursday afternoon: 81 fish, 262 points

Friday morning: 113 fish, 440 points

Friday afternoon: 40 fish, 113 points

Total: 303 fish, 1,035 points

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