Ocracoke Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament canceled again over COVID concerns

Anglers surf off the sandbar in the 2019 Ocracoke Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament. [photo courtesy Connie Leinbach/Ocracoke Observer]

The Ocracoke Invitational Surf Fishing Tournament board of directors has canceled this year’s fishing tournament due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

Richard Perkins, tournament co-chair, in announcing the postponement of the April 29-30 event on its Facebook page wrote, “To oversimplify it, the risk of becoming a COVID-spreader event is just too great and the possible consequence of losing that gamble is unspeakable.”

Perkins, of Kitty Hawk and a tournament co-founder, said the 2022 event dates will be May 4 to 6.

He said in a phone interview that the board thought long and hard about it and decided against moving it to the fall when three other popular fishing tournaments are held and in which many of the 70-plus teams compete.

“We’re not gonna step on someone else’s tournament,” Perkins said.

This is the second consecutive cancellation due to COVID concerns. Fans of the catch-and-release tournament, which has more than 70 teams, have proudly noted that prior to these difficult times, the tournament through wind and rain never canceled except for the second day in 2004 when a major storm struck the island.

The spring tournament is a much-anticipated event to which the community is invited to the Friday evening pig picking and awards ceremony, both at the Ocracoke Community Center.

Some proceeds from the event are given back to island nonprofits.

Nevertheless, Perkins encouraged the fishing teams to keep their lodging reservations and go fishing anyway.

“Many of the teams are planning on doing just that so you’ll probably see a bunch of your friends on the beach,” he said.