Tournament celebrates friends, family, fish


Some people host dinner parties or cookouts to catch up with friends.

Rob Tennille hosts the Masonboro Inlet Sportfishing Tournament.

“It’s kind of a spring kick-off,” Tennille said. “… It’s the first party of the year where everyone sees each other after winter.”

The tournament has united friends and family on the last weekend of April since 1987, when Tennille began organizing the event. It was created as an alternative to tournaments like the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament, where competition is cutthroat and entry fees are high. The 2014 event will begin Wednesday, April 23 and end Saturday, April 26.

Normally marlin is top concern while meat fish, like tuna, wahoo, and dolphin fish, are secondary.

The Masonboro Inlet Sportfishing Tournament takes the opposite approach. While billfish are eligible for a prize, the biggest tuna, wahoo and dolphin fish snag their own respective prizes.

“As a kid … I wanted to go in and catch 10 fish rather than wait all day for one unicorn you might not see. That’s what gave me the idea,” Tennille said.

The tournament, which has an enrollment fee of $500 and includes two days of fishing, is more focused on entertainment than opposition.

“Depending on how many boats enter, you could win $700. That won’t even pay for your fuel. No one fishes this tournament for money. This is social. It’s camaraderie first,” Tennille said.

This year, Bridge Tender Marina is hosting the event.

The tournament starts with a meet-and-greet for captains Wednesday with food by Buffalo Wild Wings and entertainment by local musician Chris Bellamy.

The next day, Wrightsville United Methodist Church Associate Pastor Edie Gleaves will bless the fleet as participants prepare their boats and baits.

Fishing will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For large catches like tuna and wahoo, fishermen must travel about 60 miles offshore, so boats must depart around 5:30 a.m.

Prizes for the biggest catches will be awarded Saturday evening in addition to two new awards, a Lady Angler Award and a Junior Angler Award.

After the awards ceremony, everyone will gather on the dock to eat the previous day’s catches, cleaned by Motts Channel Seafood and fried by Bridge Tender Restaurant. Tennille said it will be a chance for friends and families to relax and mingle.

“Almost everyone involved will know someone else personally. … It’s all friend of a friend of a friend. You’ll have people participating from my 12-year-old nephew to my 73-year-old father, and everything in between,” Tennille said.

Tennille said he expects as many as 30 boats to participate in the tournament, weather permitting.


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