A new high school division is added to the 26th Annual Governor’s Cup, perhaps a sign of competitive things to come.
One of the largest and most prestigious surf fishing tournaments in the state of New Jersey is the Annual Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament held at Island Beach State Park (IBSP). This year the tournament will be held on May 21 and will mark the 26th consecutive time anglers will be competing for the prestigious Governor’s Award.
The individual who catches the overall largest fish wins the Governor’s Award and has his/her name engraved on the Governor’s Cup, which is permanently displayed at IBSP. There are a variety of species eligible for entry and all fish must meet minimum length tournament requirements—28 inches for striped bass, 14 inches for bluefish, the coastwide minimum of 13 inches for weakfish, 16 inches for black drum, 18 to 27 inches for red drum, and 10 inches for kingfish.
This year the tournament takes on a new and exciting twist as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and it’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is proud to announce the addition of a new category for high school age students.
In January Manasquan High School and Lacey Township fishing club advisors and students met with IBSP Superintendent Jenifer Clayton, along with Karen Byrne, the Aquatic Education Coordinator for the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Paul Smith of the Governor’s Committee, and the New Jersey Beach Buggy Association (NJBBA) to discuss all aspects of this new category and the rules that would apply. The Governor’s Committee was open and receptive to the school’s ideas and this new category was born.
Students can enter the tournament as a team of two to five students who are part of a formal high school fishing club in New Jersey, members of a Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs group, or a non-formal group. Schools can have more than one team entered so all High School club members can participate on a team representing their school. The State has waived the tournament entry fee for student teams and admission to the park is free for registrants.
The winning team will have their school and team member’s names engraved on a special high school only Governor’s Cup that will be on display at IBSP; they will also receive a plaque that can be displayed in their school. There will also be second and third place plaques awarded and each student registering for the tournament will receive a commemorative T-shirt.
The high school “tournament within a tournament” will follow the same rules as the general tournament.
The school team category is also supported by sponsors that are dedicated to the future of our fishery by supporting our kids, including the Folsom Corporation, the Reel Seat in Brielle, Shark River Surf Anglers, the Fish Hawks Saltwater Anglers Club of Forked River, the Hooked On Fishing-Not On Drugs New Jersey, and The Fisherman Magazine.
“A year ago in our 50th anniversary special of the magazine (After School: Life’s Lessons Begin Here, May of 2016) we asked the question if perhaps one day we might be able to look at box scores in local newspapers of competitive surfcasting scores at the Jersey Shore,” said Jim Hutchinson, Managing Editor of The Fisherman Magazine.
Perhaps that time has come!
“The high school Governor’s Surf Tournament will be a great experience for all high school teams competing,” said Al Monteverdi, president of the Manasquan High School fishing club. “It brings us outside and gives us something to compete for.”
Monteverdi, a sophomore at the school, said he expects a great time for all who share the same hobby and a chance to meet other student anglers to perhaps share a few stories; but he also reminded others that it is actually a competition. “It will be a great tournament and the Manasquan High School teams are ready to compete,” he said.
At this time, high school teams expected to compete in 2017 in the Governor’s Cup include Manasquan, Lacey Township, Barnegat, Southern Regional, and the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science (MATES) in Manahawkin.
South Jersey’s AJ “Max” Elmore who won the teen male division in 2016 said he’s hoping to see Governor Chris Christie at this year’s event. “I understand he is busy but I joined last year to actually win and meet him,” said the young HOFNOD ambassador who hit a 38-inch bluefish, the largest of all youth fish registered in last year’s Governor’s Cup. “I hope the bluefish are in heavy like they were last year during the tournament,” he added.
Same day registration for the Governor’s Cup gets under way at 5 a.m. at IBSP Pavilion #1 in Seaside Park. Cost is $20 for anglers 18 and over, $5 for those age 13-17, and it’s free for kids 12 and under, and also for those student teams. Tournament fishing gets underway at 6:30 a.m. and runs through 1 p.m., with a raffle drawing from 1:30 p.m. until 2 p.m. and the final awards ceremony at 2 p.m.
|REGISTER TO FISH: FREE SALTWATER REGISTRY|
|If you have a fishing club in your high school and are interested in participating, call 609-748-4347 or visit www. state.nj.us/dep/fgw/gsft.htm (Google “Governor’s Cup New Jersey) to find the online brochure and registration form. To sponsor a component of the high school tournament by making a donation for the kids, contact committee member Paul Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or 732-543-6192.
Remember that all anglers aged 16 or older need to complete the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry to fish in marine waters; and competitors in the Governor’s Cup must be registered prior to the event. Go to www.saltwaterregistry.nj.gov.