An Introduction to Participate in a Surf Fishing Tournament

This is an introduction for anyone who would like to participate in a surf fishing tournament. Surf fishing tournaments are a great way to enjoy this exciting sport.

Surf fishing tournaments can run for a day, several days or even weeks. Most tournaments are used as a fund raiser for a nonprofit organization. There are all kinds of tournaments you can enter. In one respect they will have a lot of similarities. All the tournaments will have designated boundaries and requirements to compete in their event.

Surf Fishing Tournament Registration and Kick Off Orientation

Surf fishing tournaments are conducted in a few different ways but all of them are very similar. Registration fees vary from a few dollars to a three digit fee to get in. Some will have registrations prior to the tournament and others have their registrations on the day of the event. Either way at some point after registrations you can expect to attend a kick off orientation. The purpose of the meeting is to make sure everyone is familiar with all the rules and requirements of the tournament. The first (unwritten) rule is always “know the rules”. Don’t miss the orientation meeting. Even if your familiar with the rules there is always something important you need to know that may get you disqualified.

Team Entries

Some tournaments will have team entries of up to six members. The teams have a captain appointed who has additional responsibilities for team management. Teams usually have a designated station to fish and special rules as well. It’s another interesting way to participate in a surf fishing tournament.

Tournaments Within a Tournament

Often there are special tournaments you can enter within the main tournament event. Usually this requires additional cost and separate awards are handed out. These are like side tournaments for special situations or results that can be achieved while participating in the main tournament. It’s not just another category. It’s an event within an event.

Multiple Categories of Surf Fish

The tournaments will usually have several different categories of surf fish species to compete in. That makes it nice because you can qualify for several different kinds of fish caught and have more opportunities to win something. If you should happen to get into a school or pod of fish there’s a good chance to chalk up a winning entry. Winning entries can be based on size, weight,  quantity or a point system depending on tournament rules.

Point Systems For Scoring

Tournaments that run for several days are usually based on a point system. Points can be based on several things.  You can get points for things like fish length, weight, practicing catch & release and type of fish. Sometimes there are categories to get bonus points too. Photos are often used as proof of catch with supporting evidence.

Handling, Tagging & Releasing Fish

Lots of surf fishing tournaments promote good conservation measures with catch and release practices. They publish instructions for handling fish and releasing them with the least impact to the fish. Sometimes provisions are made with instructions for tagging the fish for future data collection. One tournament I know of has had an “adopt a fish” tagging program. In order to collect data for a study that was being done, you could tag your fish and then get follow up information regarding future fish activity.

Prizes and Awards

Winning participants are rewarded in several ways. Trophies, money and championship titles are some of the ways the winners are recognized. Cash awards can run into the four or five figure range. There are lot of chances to win between the many categories and divisions setup.


Unfortunately there are always cheaters when it comes to winning money. Tournament officials put a lot of effort into preventing it. By submitting an entry form you will often simultaneous agree to submit to a polygraph test if a challenge arises. It’s sad to think that a fun event would be tarnished by such an act.


This is handled in an interesting way. Most tournaments require a fee to be accompanied with a formal written protest. You submit a protest, pay the fee and if the protest turns out to be valid and held up by the officials, you get your money returned. This prevents a lot of bogus protests and accusations. I’ve know of tournaments that require a $200 fee to be accompanied with your protest. If you’re going to protest you better know what you’re complaining about.

Surf fishing is such an exciting sport. Entering a surf fishing tournament is just one of the many ways to enjoy it. If this is something that you think you’d like to try don’t be put off if you’re just a beginner. It wouldn’t be the first time beginners luck took a first place.

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