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Inshore Slam reels in some big catches for an even bigger cause

Manteo Rotary Club’s 23rd annual Inshore Slam Fishing Tournament proved to be a huge success the weekend of October 2 and 3. Eighty-six participants made their way to OBX Marina in Wanchese for a very different, yet extremely rewarding fishing weekend, with proceeds going towards a heartwarming endeavor.

Bobby Harrell and Skip Morgan, both co-chairs with the Manteo Rotary Club, organized and executed their annual fishing tournament this year. Harrell told The Coastland Times he has been involved with the club since 1984 and helped organize the very first tournament the club had held.

“Our group got together back then to take on a special, major project to look for money for scholarships for our local students,” Harrell explained. The tournament was named the Rockfish Rodeo back in the day and received its name change after rock fishing became an issue in the years that followed. “Ocean fishing hasn’t been what it had been,” Harrell said.

Nonetheless, the Inshore Slam Fishing Tournament has provided over $336,000 in scholarships ever since its inception.

Harrell said he was nervous about the tournament this year, given the COVID-19 pandemic. In years prior, the event had been hosted in downtown Manteo. The event space became unavailable this year, Harrell explained, but luckily, another came through.

“The event was held at the OBX Marina; thanks goes to Wayne Umphlett and Jarrod Umphlett who donated the use of the facility,” Harrell said. “It worked out really well; it has an open-air pavilion.”

The open-air pavilion allowed for an outside venue where participants could maintain their social distance while partaking in the tournament. Harrell explained that the Manteo Rotary Club decided not to have their normal dinner and awards banquet, but rather hold the presentation of awards right after weigh-in.

Participation was another big concern of the club. Harrell said they “didn’t know what to expect” at first. But as it turns out, the club at their highest numbers in preregistration this year. “We have more preregistration this year than we have had in the past six or seven years,” Morgan mentioned.

“We are pretty excited,” Harrell had said prior to the tournament. “In spite of COVID, this may be our greatest tournament we’ve had in years. It looks like people are really stepping up to participate.”

This year, the club wanted to dedicate their tournament to a very special angler, one who had passed away on July 23 of this year at age 18: Jefferson “Sonny” Lee Albarty V.

Albarty left a lasting impression on those he met. “He was an inspiration to anyone who met him,” Harrell said. “Sonny was a regular participant and winner in our tournament,” added Morgan.

“He would fish hard and hunt hard, and always had a smile on his face,” said Harrell. To honor Albarty, Harrell said the proceeds from this year’s tournament will go towards a scholarship, awarded each year to a student with a passion for the outdoors, pursuing a degree in wildlife management, marine science or another career path similar in nature.

As for the tournament itself, Grand Slam winner Hunter Brown reeled in 13.6 pounds worth of striper, trout and red drum, taking home the $2500 and the tournament trophy.

Largest fish winners in the adult category included Hunter Brown, Mikey Sababic, John Woolard and Chip Phillips, who brought in the largest trout, red drum, bluefish and striper, respectively. For the adults, the prize for those who caught the largest fish in their category was $500.

In the youth category, Hannah Hogan, Owen Stephens and Crew Basnight pulled through for the win. Hogan caught the largest trout at 4.79 pounds, and Basnight reeled in a 4.09-pound striper. Stephens caught both the largest red drum and bluefish, weighing in at 5.68 pounds and 4.10 pounds, respectively.

Meredith Stephens was crowned Lady Angler of the tournament, catching 4.95 pounds worth of fish over the weekend.

Harrell reported after the tournament that 14 Grand Slams weighed in, which was by far the “most ever, both adults and youth.”

In addition, many donations to the Sonny Albarty Scholarship were made. “Some anglers even donating their winnings back to be added to the fund,” said Harrell.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund can send donations to the Manteo Rotary Club, PO Box 1621 Manteo, NC 27954 with “Sonny Albarty Scholarship” in the subject line.

READ MORE IN OUR ON THE WATER SECTION HERE.

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