The 2016 Nantucket Classic, a multi-species catch-and-release only tournament, was held last weekend, September 23 to 25. Based out of the Nantucket Boat Basin, the Nantucket Classic awards points based on species, with minimum length requirements for each species: striped bass (28-inch minimum, 5 points); Atlantic bonito (21-inches, 3 points), false albacore (25-inches, 3 points) and bluefish (22-inches, 1 point).
As a catch-and-release tournament, the Nantucket Classic was conducted under a clear set of rules, including:
“A. All fish caught must be measured using an approved device with a picture.
B. Pictures must be clear and include the entire fish on a flat surface with the measuring device visible on top of fish.
C. The camera used for capturing photos must be time stamped with correct date and time.
D. If any of the above stated are not correct or visible, your fish will be disqualified.
E. All species length will be measured in 1/2″ increments from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail. Check the State rules for proper way to measure each fish species prior to start of the tournament.”
The Nantucket Classic “is a catch and release tournament to preserve our fisheries and have them available for generations to come.”
OCEARCH, Anglers Journal, Soundings, Southport Boats, Cisco Brewery, and Nantucket Boat Basin sponsored the 2016 tournament.
According to Bob Lewis, a member of the Osterville Anglers’ Club who competed as part of the four man team on Capt. Rob Miller’s 2016 33-foot Summer Place Southport along with Capt. Les Shwom and Dave Rose, “Along with fishing, my main job was to measure and photograph each fish, and with three guys hooked up at a time, meaning I had to take care of three fish, I didn’t get to fish as much as everyone else, but that was OK.”
To understand Bob’s predicament, the members of Capt. Miller’s team caught 72 striped bass on Saturday at or over the 28-inch minimum, with most of them well over that number, including some in the 25-pound class. They had pre-fished these productive waters off of Nauset Inlet on Thursday and their decision to return there on Friday proved to be a wise one, as they built a large lead and didn’t leave the dock on Saturday as the weather conditions turned challenging.
The Summer Place team took first place with their 360 points, far outpacing the second and third place finishers with 30 and 18 points, respectively.
After the first day of fishing, contestants were invited to a welcoming cocktail event hosted at a unique venue: the OCEARCH. This research vessel, which carries the same name as the organization established and led by president Chris Fischer, is docked at the Nantucket Boat Basin during its three-week mission of tagging sharks in federal waters and is well-known for its assistance in helping the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy during 2012 and 2013 in their mission to tag and identify great white sharks in state waters. One of the most unique features of the OCEARCH is the submerged hydraulic platform that is used to raise a shark out of the water after it has been hooked and brought to the OCEARCH.
Bob commented that being able to learn and see how the OCEARCH operates was a unique and “really cool” part of the tournament experience.
After fishing on Saturday, a tournament dinner, sponsored by Southport Boats, was held at Slip 14 where trophies and cash prizes were presented.
Finally, on Sunday a farewell party was held at the Cisco Brewery, complete with brewery tours and samples of their beers and wines.