Surf Fishing Tourney Moves Back To Assateague

ASSATEAGUE — With the 11th hour deal to end the federal government shutdown reached late Wednesday night, an annual surf fishing tournament is heading back to the Assateague Island National Seashore just one week after the Ocean City Mayor and Council approved an emergency contingency plan.
Assateague Mobile Sportfishermen’s Association (AMSA) officials learned early Thursday the Assateague Island National Seashore was reopening and would be able to accommodate their annual Ronald Bound Surf Fishing Tournament as planned on Friday and Saturday. With the federal government shutdown and Assateague Island National Seashore closed indefinitely, AMSA officials last week approached the Mayor and Council about allowing the annual event on the beaches in Ocean City from the Delaware line south to 30th Street.
Ocean City elected officials somewhat reluctantly approved the request, citing recent concerns over the issue of opening the resort’s beaches to vehicle traffic during the offseason as well as a recent warm weekend when another surf fishing tourney was held.
However, AMSA President Bill Justice said he got the call early Thursday that Assateague Island National Seashore was reopening and would be able to accommodate the tournament. Justice said the Over-Sand Vehicle (OSV) area was only open to the 24.7 kilometer marker because of some over-wash from last week’s storm, but should not detract from the tournament.
“We are back in business at Assateague and everybody is happy again,” he said. “Only a portion of the island is available because of last week’s storm, but we have more than enough room to accommodate our event.”
Justice said AMSA appreciated the council’s willingness to bend its rules to accept the tournament if the shutdown did not end in time.
“We’re glad that turned out to be all for nil, but we really appreciate the Ocean City Mayor and Council and their willingness to help us out,” he said. “Without that approval, we could not have had this tournament if the shutdown didn’t end and Assateague remained closed.”
Justice said the location uncertainty has not impacted turnout.
“It looks like everybody is coming as planned,” he said. “I expect to have about 20 teams, and I was only anticipating 25 tops even before this situation evolved. We’re happy to be back and we’re looking forward to a great tournament. If the weather holds up, we’ll be fine and the forecast looks good.”