ANNAPOLIS, MD – Anglers from Maine to North Carolina made their way to Maryland this past weekend to test their skills and promote recreational fishing on the Chesapeake Bay as the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association (MSSA) hosted the nineteenth annual Chesapeake Bay Fall Classic, the largest fall rockfish tournament on the Bay.
250 boats carrying over 1,500 anglers took to the water to try to reel in the big one for their share of the prize money and of course bragging rights. The MSSA and its volunteers set up 8 weigh stations from Sandy Point state park to Point Lookout.
“This tournament, like our others, lures anglers from Maryland and other states to the Bay and gives our local communities a little boost and of course gives our members one last chance to participate in this great fishery,” said Dave Smith, Executive Director of the MSSA.
This was the final tournament in the 2011 MSSA Tournament Series which consists of three total events including the largest rockfish tournament in the country the Championship on the Chesapeake and the offshore Tuna-ment.
First place went to Steve Dodson and son Mike of Pasadena, Maryland for their 51.65 pound rockfish. The father and son team caught the 51+ pounder at the mouth of the Choptank on the first day of the tournament. Dodson weighed the fish in at Taylors Island Family Campground, one of the two weigh stations on the Eastern Shore. Caught on tandem Bloody Point bait he purchased at Alltackle during the tournament captains meetings, Dodson and his son Mike will be taking $21,875 for their catch.
Smith said the Bloody Point baits have won the last three bay tournaments the MSSA has hosted.
Second place went to Andrew Turner of Brandywine, Maryland with his 42.45 pound rockfish. Turner was accompanied by Lee Tippett of the Fin Finder as they trolled the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Their efforts paid off late in the game as they hooked up with the beast around 3:00 PM on Sunday.
Tippett said they were brining the lines in when they hooked up and were surprised when they brought it to the boat. Turner will walk away with $43,225 and top payout of the tournament. While Turner took second place, he took first place in all of the Tournament Within a Tournament (TWT’s).
Third place went to John Patchett of Fallston, Maryland. Patchett will be taking home over $15,000 for his third place fish and several TWT’s.
The MSSA started the youth division in the fall tournament in 2010 and it has quickly become one of the anglers’ favorite aspects of the tournament. The MSSA has made it their mission for many years to educate and encourage youth fishing in the state of Maryland through fishing clinics, camps, and contests/tournaments.
The youth division of the Fall Classic is for any child 16 years of age and under. The MSSA only asks that the youth angler participate in the catch as much as possible.
- 1st place – Gavin Ridgeway – 38.8 lbs
- 2nd place – Matt Long – 35.5 lbs
- 3rd place – Jake Meadows – 33.9 lbs
- 4th place – Cameron Connor – 31.75 lbs
- 5th place – Jennifer Tippett – 31.6 lbs
- 6th place – C.J. Lowe – 29.3 lbs
- 7th place – Michael Harris – 28.6 lbs
- 8th place – Jimmy Tippett – 27.2 lbs
- 9th place – Steven Hepburn – 27.05 lbs
- 10th place – Austin Duffey – 25.6 lbs
Honorable Mention in the youth division – Trevor Suchter 24.35 lbs; Austin Garrison 22 lbs; Dylan Paugh 12.4 lbs; Eric Scott 12.35 lbs; Ben 11.05. There were also several youth anglers that weighed in multiple fish, but only one prize per youth angler is allowed: Cameron Connor 29.2 lbs; Michael Harris 18.85 lbs;
The MSSA gave away over $95,000 in cash and prizes for the tournament. Tournament results will be posted on the MSSA’s website, facebook page, and tidalfish.com. 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.
Once again the MSSA and Alltackle teamed up and awarded 10 individuals in the youth division and will award all the kids who weighed in a fish with a prize.