MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Registration is now open for Marine Corps Base Quantico's first snakehead fishing tournament, which will consist of 24 hours of competitive fishing, by hook and by bow, in all waters on and around the base that are open to the public.
Fishing will begin at 3 p.m., June 7, 2013, and culminate with a weigh-in party featuring prizes, live music, wildlife exhibits, craft demonstrations and more the following afternoon.
"What we're trying to do is promote some fun and some fishing opportunities," said Euel Tritt, environmental law enforcement officer and one of the event's organizers. "I think it's going to be a great event, just for Marines and their families to do something different on a weekend."
The tournament will begin with little fanfare, as anglers take to the shores and waters around the base.
"Go register at [Recreation, Information, Tickets and Tours], and you can start collecting fish after 3 p.m., June 7, 2013," said Tim Stamps, head of the base Natural Resources Section and another event organizer.
Rec ITT is at the Marine Corps Exchange, and registration is open there until close of business June 7, 2013. The contest is open to the public. June 7 to 9 is free fishing weekend in Virginia, so fishing licenses are not required to participate.
Any boats have to be launched from the launches on Chopawamsic Creek or Quantico Creek, but fishing is permitted in all waters of the Potomac River and its tributaries. Bow fishing, especially popular at night, is permitted. The primary target species is the snakehead, but gar, carp and catfish will also be considered when prizes are doled out. All these species can be caught by hook or by bow.
Beginning at 7 a.m. that June 8, 2013, Marine Corps Community Services will rent canoes and kayaks from the wildlife viewing area between Russell Road and Chopawamsic Creek.
Following the Run Amuck race Saturday morning, tournament organizers will take over the Run Amuck headquarters in the Lejeune Hall parking lot and festivities will run there from about 1 to 5 p.m. Food will be available for purchase, fly fishing demonstrations will be provided, and Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs personnel will be on hand with displays about base wildlife.
Revelries will also include a casting contest, guest speakers, wildlife craft demonstrations and a display of the winning art from the base Earth Day photo contest.
Fishing will run until 3 p.m., and the weigh-in will start at 4 p.m. Individual awards in the adult and minor categories will be given for the largest snakehead caught and the most total weight of all species combined, and prizes will also be given to the adult and minor with the biggest fish of any species.
Tritt said the tournament was planned after much encouragement from Col. David Maxwell, the base commander, and in cooperation with MCCS.
While MCCS has organized fishing tournaments in the past, Gary Gutshall, base recreation operations manager, said this will be the first to run overnight. He said prizes will come from sponsorship and registration fees, so they have not yet been determined.
"This is the first time we've ever done this type of event, so we're going to wait and see," Gutshall said.
Although snakeheads, introduced from Japan, appear to be "here to stay" in local tidal watersheds and don't appear to have had quite the destructive effect on local fish species that was initially feared, Stamps said, "The snakehead is still considered a nonnative, invasive fish, and policy is that you can't possess one unless it's dead." Naturalists still have concerns about the possibility of the species moving inland, he said.
Anglers consider the fish, which puts up a strong fight when snagged, both fun to catch and a tasty meal, Stamps added.
"The tournament is to let people know it's a good resource out there that's good to eat and fun to catch," he said. "Hunt for them, fish for them, kill them, eat them."
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