War On The Shore 2019 Results
On Saturday, October 5th, 2019 … 108 surf anglers gathered on Herring point beach to Gordons pond in Cape Henlopen State Park, to battle it out for the top prize of three grand. They dealt with nor’easter conditions, heavy winds and waves. These folks, the self proclaimed hardcore to the amateur surf angler were all in, and ready for a day of serious surf fishing. Big props and thanks to all of you for fishing these conditions, especially you first timers. You all dealt with crazy conditions and surf fished it hard. Honestly I think that leveled the playing field, it was anyone’s to win.
I arrived at the park a little before five in the morning and set up for late registrations, and special event one day surf tag pick ups. The wind was howling, and from the parking lot, the surf sounded like Poseidon was bowling with the gods. Nautical was a mild description, the sea was angry that morning my friends. The old man of the sea was not happy, and we were all out of soup. So goes it with Mother Nature, she is one fickle lady.
The surf was supposed to lay down Friday night, it didn’t. All week we watched as the surf pushed to the dune lines. Parks were closing the beaches that would flood at high tide. On Monday Naval crossing was a lake to the dune line, that was one of our beaches to fish. Gordons pond beach had water pushing beyond the firewatch towers into the dune breach towards the Lewes canal. We were still dealing with “new” tide cycles, high tide and higher tide. Low tide didn’t seem to exist all week. I had no idea what to expect Saturday, but one never does in these conditions. You just hope for the best. Surf fishing, despite the conditions all week was producing catches.
We told anglers Naval crossing could be dicey, everyone lined up from Herring Point to Gordons Pond. There was plenty of room out there for that many anglers. The issue for some was the water was moving so fast you had to really watch your gear and hold onto your rod. Using two rods was difficult, but many managed. For the seasoned anglers it was business as usual, for those not used to these conditions, it was a learning experience. Everyone who put in the effort still caught fish. The only problem, many fish were just under the qualifying sizes.
The wind never laid down, in fact at times it would pick up and then drop, and pick up, and drop. I hate fishing in wind, standing there watching people fish in wind was killing me, but I could escape to the truck. By the way that big truck stuck on the ramp was yours truly. My four wheel drive went up Saturday as did another judges. Props to Greg Plummer and TJ Handlin for the pictures of BJ pulling me up the ramp, good times! Huge thanks to all of the judges for picking up our slack with our broken vehicles. You can drive a beach in two wheel drive, getting off the access ramp is another story.
After a long day of heavy seas, wind, foam all over the place and a free exfoliation, everyone was done by three in the afternoon. The tide never came over the edge of the beach, we at least had that advantage, and fish were caught. That is always my biggest fear, no one catching anything that qualifies. We pick raffle tickets for prize places if that happens. I would much rather reward an angler for a well deserved catch. I was not disappointed. We filled fourteen prize places on Saturday. With mostly pompano and bluefish.
Anglers on the south end of the beaches were hammering pompano, just about all of them were too small. Seven inches was the required length. Laura and her crew caught over twenty pompano, she was killing it. I was expecting larger pompano, by noon we had four pompano scored at 8 points. All ties are determined by the time the first fish was caught. I was anticipating awarding three grand for a seven inch fish. Anglers get an extra point for releasing the fish. I was hoping for bigger fish, right around lunch I was not disappointed.
If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed. Scott Jost had a knock down. He pulled in a sizable bluefish, one of the biggest I have seen for this time of year. I measured the fish in at seventeen plus inches. With the live release Scott had eighteen points, and was in the lead. He also was in the lead for the biggest bluefish and largest fish overall. Other bluefish were caught and scored, but none took over his catch. He was looking at over five thousand in prize money. Never seen anyone more nervous about the end of a tourney. He had a few hours to go still and one never knows.
The surf anglers all left the beach after three and headed to the air stations. We were set up at the Wheelhouse in Lewes on the back deck. Some of the local lucky to live close by went home for a shower. Everyone striped down to their street clothes. Waders and all that gear were not needed. The air temperature just at the air pumps felt twenty degrees warmer than the beach. When everyone started trickling in I saw a lot of wind burnt faces, but everyone was smiling. Tough tournaments are made all better with good food, company, and adult beverages. The stories were flowing, everyone had a great time despite the conditions. I want to thank all of you for participating. One of the goals was to raise money for Frets 4 Vets. Anglers raised $540 for the non profit that helps PTSD veterans.
The prize places were announced and then we picked tickets to fill the remaining places. We also gave out a few items. DS Custom Tackle did a special raffle and gave away two modified mullet rigs, some top and bottom rigs, a fistful of Fishbites, and one hundred dollars.
Big thanks to all of our sponsors;
DS Custom Tackle
ASAP Screen printing
Delmarva Outdoors Expo
The following are our winners who placed with fish that scored in the first five money places.
1st … Scott Jost … 18 points … $3,000 Bait Board made By Frets 4 Vets
2nd … Laura “The Pompano Queen” Foerster 15 points … $1,000 Bait Board made By Frets 4 Vets
3rd … Lee Ireland 15 points … $700 Bait Board made By Frets 4 Vets
4th … Reese Hitchens 15 points … $350
5th … Bill Orth 15 points … $200
6th to 14 th place was mostly pompano scored at 8 points these winners received a full sized DSF flag and a gift certificate from DS Custom Tackle
Biggest fish … Scott Jost … $500
Bluefish Calcutta … $1660 .. Scott Jost
(83 anglers at $20)
Thank you everyone that participated, watching everyone fish and compete is a lot of fun. We had a few late entries the evening before and the morning of the tournament. Taking our entrants up to 108 surf anglers. We are giving the extra money collected from their entry fees to Frets 4 Vets. Increasing the money donated to them from $540 to $840. This will help put a student through a full set of guitar classes. This program by Frets 4 Vets helps PTSD veterans. Check them out some time, it is a great organization.
To Answer a few questions …
****** We measure fish to the fork so there are no questions on size, missing tails, or any discrepancies. After an issue in a couple of tournaments, I decided to go IGFA rules like they do in billfish tournaments. “The center of the tail is always there, it leaves no room for error.” The fish all week were well above the size limits, especially for bluefish and pompano.
Striped bass were removed from the fishing list a couple of months ago. Due to the fact they are overfished and overfishing is occurring, according to the ASMFC. I can not in good conscience be an advocate for the protection of any fish species and then allow these to be further stressed by handling them for a tournament. The fish’s size has to be confirmed by a judge, that takes a little time in some cases. We try to get on the fish as soon as possible, we do not want to be responsible for killing a fish.
We also don’t allow fish out of the legal slot limit to be counted or measured by a judge, they are to be immediately released, by law. Retaining these fish to measure by a judge is possession by the surf angler and is illegal, that is per DNREC rules and Delaware state law. I contacted DNREC for a ruling on that a few days before War On The Shore.
Other tournaments allowing these fish to be counted are basically encouraging people to break that law. Fish scored in this range technically should not be counted in a tournament either as it is illegal to retain them, but to each his own.
Spot were not allowed on the score-able fish list for a very good reason. They can be bought at a bait shop, maybe not always in the size range that would score, but technically they are bait. In a big money tournament I feel it is important to keep something like that off the board. Even with all of the above not allowed, there were plenty of other fish to catch and score. Not to mention the fish sizes in the days up to the tournament were well above the WOTS size limits. Of course on tourney day all the small fish show up.
An Angler who threatens to cut a neighbors line for being tangled could be disqualified. An angler who does cut said line will be disqualified. Unsportsmanlike conduct will never be tolerated in any of our tournaments. I don’t care whom you think you are or what organization you are a member.