Dewees Island is a fabulous location for fishing, and catching your own is one way to avoid the sort of fish fraud detailed in yesterday’s article in the New York Times. The 2012 annual fishing rodeo is well underway on the island. My attempts to find out the story of how this started have come up empty, with a few folks chuckling and saying something like… “I might have some vague memories of that…” but that’s about it. So if you have your own stories about the fishing rodeo, please comment in on this post.
Here is what we do know: Dewees Island has an annual fishing rodeo, wherein teams of up to seven people sign up to fish on a particular day. You have to sign up at least two weeks in advance, which is why there were two different teams fishing Friday and Saturday in the winds and vagaries of Hurricane Sandy. Each team earns points by catching fish. The five fish that count are Sheepshead, Red Drum (Spottail Bass), Black Drum, Sea Trout, and Flounder, and the members of the team are responsible for keeping track of the total inches of fish caught. (Sadly, mullet, shrimp, and crabs don’t count.)
Any lot owner or homeowner may participate and enter his/her team. Each team may have up to seven teammates, including the team captain. No other team can fish on another team’s registered day. I think an angler can only fish on one team per year.
In order to encourage more children to participate, the point system is as follows:
- Teammates 15 years old and older will receive one point for each inch of eligible fish caught.
- Teammates under 15 will receive 1.5 points for each inch of eligible fish caught.
In order to encourage participation among families that cannot scrape up a team of seven, smaller teams get handicap points. All teams with fewer than seven teammates will receive a 50 point handicap for each missing person. (A team registering 5 people will start with 100 points). Island staff members are welcome as teammates. (And this could be a good strategy, as some of them have their own fishing charter experience!)
Each team may fish at any time from sunrise to sunset during their registered day, but the TOTAL FISHING TIME WILL BE LIMITED TO EIGHT HOURS. This will give all hard working anglers a much-needed break. In order to take advantage of the best fishing times of morning and dusk, a team’s eight-hour time slot can be broken up as they wish. One team may fish, for example from, 6AM-10AM, and then again from 5PM-8PM.
Another team might choose to fish from 9AM-5PM. This will allow each team to choose the best tides of the day for fishing. If any team member is fishing at any time, this counts against the entire team’s 8 hours. Team spirit is encouraged. Some teams even issue t-shirts! Others gather for a meal the night before to plan out hours, bait, and strategy. Some teams appoint snack-ticians, who deliver breakfast or beer by golf cart to those hard working anglers.
You can fish from land at any of the island’s fishing spots, including six pipes and Chapel Pond. Your group can divide up to cover the ferry dock AND Big Bend dock.
Each teammate will receive a scorecard to record his/her points. The team captain will tally up the team’s points and submit his/her team’s total score to Joan. The Rodeo is about fun and learning, so scorecards must be itemized and tallied. Teams who submit scorecards that aren’t tallied will be disqualified. Unusual fish or great fishing stories are encouraged to be recorded on the Captain’s Log. (and this blog!) For example, this year one team was fishing at Myrtle Dock. One member finally caught a fish and whipped out his iphone to record a photo. What the phone recorded was its own fall off the dock, bubbles and all. Luckily for the angler, he had his phone in a lifeproof case, and he was able to retrieve both the phone and the photo!
We’d love to hear your stories about this (or previous) year’s teams and adventures.