deep blue game hunting
By Daniel Bowden • Photography by Joshua Curry
If you are one of these fish, it would be in your best interest to find a good place to hide.
Tautog Cobia Mahi Mahi Flounder
Tuna Mackerel divers, grab your weapons
Eleven species of fish are fair game to spearfishermen entering the 2013 Wrightsville
Beach Spearfishing Tournament. Staged from the Seapath Yacht Club Marina on
Causeway Drive, the Cape Fear coast will be wide-open stalking grounds for the
contestants June 21-23.
“You’re welcome to go wherever you want,” says Ryan McInnis, one of three
officers of the tournament. “The only restriction is that you have to weigh fish on the same day
that you catch them.”
The decision to distinguish divisions in the tournament by species of fish is new this year.
This year’s rule change offers specialists a better chance for recognition. The spearfisherman
who brings in the heaviest fish in each division will win the division.
“Whether you’re a novice spearfisherman swimming off the beach to the jetty to try to
get a flounder or sheepshead … or if you’re a world-traveling mega-resources type fisherman
who can go out to the Gulf Stream to hunt tuna or mahi mahi or wahoo and everything in
between, you have an equal opportunity.”
Two other divisions were also added this year: The Master Hunter Award will reward the spear-fisherman
whose number of scoring fish, multiplied by the total weight of all scoring fish, is the
highest. A prize will also be awarded to the winner of the Lionfish Roundup. Whoever brings in the
most lionfish will be declared the winner.
“Lionfish are an invasive, non-native species that wreaks havoc on local fish
populations,” McInnis says. “Their spines are venomous but their flesh is a delicacy.”
In the interest of making the tournament an equal opportunity event, competition will
be open to both free divers and scuba divers. McInnis says while scuba diving allows spear-fishermen
to hunt at greater depths, the bubbles coming from the scuba tank can scare fish
away. When free diving, spearfishermen can sneak up on their prey with less difficulty, but
it requires training and experience to hunt 100 feet underwater without a tank.
“The local community has really embraced and trained for both disciplines,” McInnis says.
The past couple of years have seen an increase in the number of people joining the tournament.
“The tournament has drawn people from the East Coast, Gulf Coast, West Coast, because of
its unique nature and the spearfishing opportunity off our coast. … I’ve been all over the world
and I still love our backyard,” McInnis says.
Those interested in joining the 2013 Wrightsville Beach Spearfishing Tournament can learn
more at www.wilmingtonspearfishing.com
Clockwise from top: Fish are inspected and weighed at Seapath Marina in the 2012 Wrightsville
Beach Spearfishing Tournament. Ed Ward and Drew Salley lay planks of wood to be glued up and
clamped to create the speargun blank.
WBM june 2013