Opening day of Maryland rockfish season is a big deal and the official first day of Spring for local anglers. The best way to celebrate is the Annual Boatyard Bar & Grill Opening Day Catch & Release Rockfish Tournament. This year’s opening day is April 16, 2016 and will be our 15th year that Chesapeake anglers have been fishing for fun and benefitting three great causes. Anglers Sports Center returns (for the 15th time!) as the Official Presenting Sponsor, lending their support to the cause and great prizes to the competitors.
As a Catch and Release event, fishermen actively use best practices for a healthy rockfish population and clean Bay. Anglers compete for terrific prizes, but gain even greater satisfaction from supporting the Chesapeake Bay Foundation®, the Coastal Conservation Association Maryland and the Annapolis Police Department’s Youth Fishing Camp through proceeds of the Tournament.
Registrants assist CBF with their “Save the Bay” efforts and help CCA-MD protect the fishery. Plus their participation aids the Annapolis Police Department’s Youth Fishing Camp which benefits local “at risk” kids by establishing long-lasting bonds with Annapolis police officers at the camp, a two-week program started by Lt. Brian Della.
Some locals burn socks, while others celebrate the first day of Spring with the start of rockfish season, maybe both! For the latter, enjoying a day on the water with friends and then a fun party was the inspiration of Dick Franyo, the Boatyard Bar & Grill’s owner and event founder. “We started this tournament because everyone was out on the water anyway, so giving them a means to really celebrate the day with a great awards party while helping out these important causes caught on.” said Franyo, adding, “We share a passion with anglers for a healthier Bay and preserving the sport of fishing for future generations.”
A day of fishing since “first light” is capped with a lively celebration featuring music by D’Vibe and Conga as well as the awards ceremony. Friends, family and the public partake of the fun! Festivities run from 4-8 p.m. at the Boatyard Bar & Grill’s parking lot, Fourth Street and Severn Avenue in Eastport, Annapolis. At this year’s party, 150 entrants and more than 1000
people get to celebrate the 15th Annual Tournament and the 55th Anniversary of Anglers Sport Center.
Schedule of events: Measure-in by 4:30 p.m.
- Party 4-8 p.m.
- Live Music 5-8 p.m.
- Awards 5 p.m.
All the buzz from the anglers lends an undercurrent of excitement whether at the Measure-in, during the awards presentation, or especially at the leader board. Many fascinating fish tales from a variety of sources make for excellent media potential. PropTalk Magazine returns as the Official Media Sponsor. The Skippers Party on the night before the tournament gives the boat owners/captains a chance to ”swap lies”, eat oysters and listen to Cuzzin Mark & Sean.
The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) is offering a $30 enter-to-win opportunity for an Engel 60 quart cooler, backpack and tumbler package as a prize for the longest fish. The chance includes a one-year CCA MD Division membership. “While prizes donated by our generous sponsors, led by Anglers Sport Center, are important, what the entrants really covet is the winner’s name and outline of a fish painted and hung from the rafters of the Boatyard”, said Franyo. “This is what really drives the anglers: knowing that if they win they can bring in family and friends to see their names and fish outlines hanging for all time.” Bragging rights go a long way and there are 14 replicas currently hanging in the restaurant – it’s quite a sight!
No fish are brought in to be measured as it is a catch and release event. Fishermen bring in their digital pictures of the fish taken next to the Boatyard Measuring Device, officially known as the “yardstick” (and fondly known as the “fishstick” by staff), and the winners are determined from the photos. These digital photos are accepted by email or in person, often emailed direct from the boats via smartphones. Judges will maintain a virtual leaderboard on the Boatyard Bar & Grill Facebook page and Twitter feed.
The Boatyard is dedicated to “a healthier Bay, sailing fast, fishing with friends and happy kids”, and it’s “where sailors, fishermen and all lovers of the Chesapeake come to relax and enjoy pint drinks and great food!” Over 1% of the Boatyard sales are donated to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other Bay conservancies, and the Boatyard is a member of 1% for the Planet (www.onepercentfortheplanet.org). The Boatyard also donates all oyster shells to the Oyster Recovery Partnership and recycles everything – even composts all its food scraps. Located at Fourth & Severn in Eastport, Annapolis – 410.216.6206.
Be sure to visit the Boatyard website under “Events” to register and for past event results and photos: http://www.boatyardbarandgrill.com/events/annapolis-fishing-tournament. Registration opened February 18, 2016.