Anglers from Maine to North Carolina made their way to Maryland to test their skills and promote recreational fishing on the Chesapeake Bay as the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association (MSSA) hosted the 17th annual Chesapeake Bay Fall Rockfish Tournament.
Nearly 200 boats carrying over 1000 anglers took to the water to try to reel in the big one for their share of the prize money. The MSSA set up 7 weigh stations from Sandy Point state park to Point Lookout for anglers to bring in their top fish.
“This tournament, like our others, lures anglers from Maryland and other states to the Bay and gives our local communities a little economic boost and of course gives our members one last chance to participate in a tournament this year,” said Dave Smith, Executive Director of the MSSA.
This was the final tournament in the 2009 MSSA Tournament Series which consists of four total events including the largest spring rockfish tournament in the country.
Robert Harris Jr. of Solomons, MD took home first place with his 47.95 pound rockfish, securing him $44,703 for his efforts. Harris caught the winning fish on a crippled alewive Saturday morning near 72A. Harris has been competing in MSSA tournaments, as well as many others all over the East Coast, for almost ten years now.
Lee Tippett of southern Maryland placed second with his 43.25 pound rockfish caught near the gas docks just in front of Solomons, MD. Tippett will walk away with $18,000 and attributes his success to a Tyler’s Tackle parachute rig.
Third place went to James Rose of Kent Island. Rose caught his fish near 78A on a 21 Tony early Saturday morning. Rose and his crew will have a lot to be thankful for this holiday as they take home $4,441.
Also in the money was Frank Hagner of Baltimore who took third place in the Skill Levels with his 41.65 pound rockfish weighed in at Point Lookout state park. Hagner will be receiving a check worth $7,560 as he entered all of the additional skill levels. Hagner entered the tournament with his son David Hagner who just recently returned from Afghanistan.
The MSSA gave away almost $75,000 in prize money for the tournament and has increased its participation each year since 1992.
Tournament results will be posted on the MSSA’s website. Smith said all results are unofficial until he and the Tournament Committee can check and confirm all fish weights and the winners pass their respective polygraph tests.
The MSSA, an organization of 7,000 conservation-minded members and the largest of its kind in the state, is most famous for its advocacy work protecting anglers’ rights and the largest spring rockfish tournament in the country, The Championship on the Chesapeake. The organization uses these tournaments to promote and encourage recreational fishing in the state of Maryland, with a special focus on the state’s youth. “We are trying to get kids and adults involved and give them the access and opportunity to get out there and fish”, Smith said.
For more information on this tournament and the MSSA you may visit www.mssa.net