Last October, I participated in the 71st Annual Nags Head Surf Fishing Club’s (NHSFC) Invitational Tournament, alongside club president Dave Masters. During those wild two days of competitive fishing, I learned about another long-standing Outer Banks fishing tradition, the Fritz Boyden Memorial Youth Fishing Tournament, a catch-and-release event for kids ages 4 to 16. 

Fast forward eight months, and my husband and I are enjoying an amazing day on the ocean piers, marveling at the young boys and girls as they land fish, and rush to nearby scorekeepers for measuring. The excitement these kids experienced, in four short hours, was priceless. 


Who is Fritz Boyden?

As I donned my free T-shirt that morning, emblazoned with tournament logos, I wondered: Who is Fritz Boyden?  Fritz Boyden’s grandson Joe White, a retired commercial fisherman, gave me the answer. “He was the ultimate angler, a true gentleman, and someone who always had time for folks, especially kids.” He was also a past president of the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce, a member of the NHSFC for over 30 years, and the author of a daily fishing report at the Outer Banks Pier. A popular saying on the pier, “One’s a run, two’s a blitz. If you don’t believe me, just ask Fritz.”  

In 1971, that love of fishing inspired Fritz Boyden to start the Youth Fishing Tournament. As Fritz would say, “If you take kids fishing, they will never get in trouble.” The rest may be history, but there is so much more. Fritz Boyden’s wife, Libby, was also a local legend. She won surfcasting contests and tournaments for decades and was a founding member of the NC Sea Hags Surf Fishing Team. 


fishing blog
Fritz Boyden presents trophy to Jason Sadler for largest fish, 21-1//4” blue (1970s)


Going Strong, 53 Years Later (one year lost to Covid)

From awards ceremonies held in the parking lot of Restaurant, by George–the birthplace of free hotdogs–to the beautiful banquet hall at Jennette’s Pier, this event has evolved into a top-notch tournament. At 8:00 a.m. sharp, anglers cast from Jennette’s, Avalon, Nags Head, and Outer Banks Piers, with free access granted by the generous owners and operators. Lines are out of the water at noon. Then the pilgrimage to Jennette’s Pier begins. 

With spectacular views, Jennette’s Pier’s banquet hall is where Dave Masters Jr. served as the Master of Ceremony. Dave described his role as “The most rewarding experience while serving on the NHSFC Board.” His father, Dave Masters Sr. was the Master of Ceremonies for many years. Dave humbly added, “I don’t hold a candle to my father, but it’s an honor to follow in his footsteps. I’m fortunate to have a front-row view of all those happy kids’ faces.” You can see photos of those happy kids’ faces on Facebook. Just go to Nags Head Youth Fishing Tournament. 


fishing blog2
Dave Masters, Master of Ceremony; Tony Garrett, Youth Tournament Director



To share highlights, winners’ names, stats, and the people-power behind this popular event, I interviewed retired Kitty Hawk Police Department Lieutenant, Tony Garrett. Tom Burke passed the baton (and a shoebox with old photos) to Tony 25 years ago. How times have changed!


Is this the largest youth fishing tournament of its kind?

To my knowledge, this is the largest youth fishing tournament held on ocean piers. What’s unique is that we have four piers within a 12-mile span, Avalon Pier, Nags Head Pier, Jennette’s Pier, and Outer Banks Pier. 


How many kids participated in the tournament this year?

333 kids registered this year. 241 registered in 2023, so quite a few more came out. Back in 2002, one year before Hurricane Isabel destroyed the Kitty Hawk Pier, we had approximately 500 kids participate in this tournament. That was the largest event to date. 


Where do the kids come from?

We had 186 youth anglers from out-of-state and 147 that were local. In total, participants came from nine different states. Out-of-state participants plan their vacations around this tournament. 


Is there a registration fee? 

No. Everything is free, including T-shirts, Fishbite bait, and lunch, thanks to the many people and organizations that sponsored this event. See the complete Sponsor and Volunteer list below.


Are there any rules the kids have to follow?

Yes. This tournament not only brings families together for a morning of competitive fun, but it also is an opportunity for parents to set a good example. A handout explains what is expected during the tournament, to keep everything honest and fair. The majority of the work must be accomplished by the youth angler–casting, hooking, and landing the fish. Others can help remove a hook, but the child must present the fish to the scorekeeper. 


What are some of the biggest changes you’ve made to this tournament over the years?

Some of the biggest changes included dividing the kids into two age groups, 4- to 9-year-olds and 10- to 16-year-olds. And then, I made it so that they could win by the largest of 12 species, not just one overall largest fish. After that was done, I further divided the groups into girls and boys, so there were even more chances to win.  And we still have the largest game fish winner overall, who receives a special rod/reel and the largest trophy. 

Another big change was in 2012, when we offered all the kids free T-shirts. Around that same time, we started providing food at the awards ceremony. The most recent change, to jumpstart the tournament after Covid, was adding cash to the tackle boxes. That’s been a really big hit!


Which species of fish are scorable? 

Two categories of fish were caught off the piers–game fish and trash fish. Only game fish were scored…black and red drum, triggerfish or spadefish, speckled or gray trout, flounder, drum, sea mullet, croaker, spot, bluefish, pigfish, and Spanish mackerel. Those that were not scored include skates, sting rays, and sharks.


What were the most common fish running that day?

Beautiful conditions–weather and tides–were in our favor, which brought in plenty of fish. Scorekeepers were definitely kept on their toes.


I understand there were fish that fell into the “Exemplary/Outstanding Catch” category. What type of fish were they?

Hayleigh Flowers caught a 30" Remora off Nags Head Pier. That was a usual species since they are typically found hitching a ride on larger fish, like sharks and whales. Chloe Artz landed a 15 Sheep’s Head. JP Gary brought in an 8-3/4" Sand Perch off of Jennette’s Pier. See the complete list of Winning Youth Anglers below.


What do you enjoy most about his tournament? 

I enjoyed seeing the smiling faces of our next generation of anglers. And then at the awards ceremony, I enjoyed seeing how excited the kids got. They were ecstatic, hoping to win a trophy, rod/reel combo, and door prizes. 

For door prizes, we had 50 tackle boxes. Each had $10, $20, $50 or $100 inside, $1,500 total. Kids pick a name out of a bucket, it’s luck of the draw. I see their faces light up when they open the box. The audience cheers on the winners and fellow anglers high-five newfound friends. 

Then the winners of the largest fish (by species), largest fish (overall), and unusual (exemplary) fish received one of 30 trophies and 30 rod/reel combos. It’s all free, which you can’t beat. 

But while giveaways, trophies, and prizes are terrific, the kids benefit from this tournament in many other ways. Some youngsters have never seen the ocean. Others have never fished. It’s an educational, fun-filled experience that can spark a lifelong love of angling, and the Outer Banks. And family members bond, they make a connection, as they enjoy nature and the great outdoors. So, what do I enjoy most about this tournament? Helping children and their families build memories that will last a lifetime.


When is next year’s tournament?

Next year’s tournament will be on Wednesday, June 11, 2025. Hope to see you all there. Bring a friend!


“The good book says for every day you fish the good Lord gives you another day.” 

– Fritz Boyden



4- to 9-Year-Old Age Group

  • Jensen Berger, Jennette’s Pier, Drum, 4 3/4"
  • Noah Dixon, Jennette’s Pier, Spanish mackerel, 19"
  • Max Patton, Jennette’s Pier, Blue Fish, 14 1/2"
  • Robbie Hurley, Jennette’s Pier, Flounder, 16"
  • Uriah Brooks, Male, Nags Head Pier, Sea Mullet, 13"
  • Dylan Gray, Jennette’s Pier, Croaker, 12"
  • William Weaver, Avalon Pier, Spot, 8"
  • Jackson Bair, Avalon Pier, Spot, 8"
  • Ellie Newns, Avalon Pier, Spot, 8"
  • Jackson Bair, Avalon Pier, Trigger Fish, 9 1/4"
  • Ellie Newns, Avalon Pier, Pig Fish, 7 1/2"
  • Brayden Delp, Jennette’s Pier, Pig Fish, 7 1/2"
  • Decker Murphy, Jennette’s Pier, Pig Fish, 7 1/2"
  • Brynll Pitsch, Jennette’s Pier, Pig Fish, 7 1/2"

Largest Fish – Female Angler

Josephine Brophy, Avalon Pier, Flounder, 13"

Largest Fish – Male Angler

Noah Nixon, Jennette’s Pier, Spanish mackerel, 19"

Exemplary Catch

J P Gary, Jennette’s Pier, Sand Perch, 8 3/4"


fihsing blog3
Winning Youth Anglers: 4- to 9-Year-Olds


10- to 16-Year-Old Age Group

  • Ryder Dutt, Nags Head Pier, Spanish mackerel, 22"
  • Rhett Powell, Jennette’s Pier, Blue Fish, 22 1/4 "
  • Colton Hopkins, Jennette’s Pier, Trout, 13"
  • Liam Groese, Avalon Pier, Flounder, 16"
  • Nola Byrne, Avalon Pier, Sea Mullet, 13"
  • Luke Powell, Jennette’s Pier, Croaker, 7 1/2 in
  • Jazlyn Simpson, Avalon Pier, Spot, 8 1/4 in
  • Evelyn Hoachlander, Jennette’s Pier, Triggerfish, 11 1/2"
  • Luke Powell, Jennette’s Pier, Pig Fish, 7 3/4"
  • Rhett Powell, Jennette’s Pier, Pig Fish, 7 3/4"

Largest Fish - Female Angler

Maggie Beacham, Jennette’s Pier, Blue Fish, 20 3/4"

Largest Fish – Male Angler

Rhett Powell, Jennette’s Pier, Blue Fish, 22 1/4"

Exemplary Catch

Hayleigh Flowers, Nags Head Pie, Remora Fish, 30"

Chloe Artz, Nags Head Pier, Sheepshead, 15"

Overall Winner

Rhett Powell, Jennette’s Pier, Blue Fish, 22 1/4"


fishing blog4
Winning Youth Anglers: 10- to 16-Year-Olds 


Sponsors (in alphabetical order)

  • Dominion Energy (Kitty Hawk)
  • Fishbites 
  • JK Design and Marine Solutions (custom goods)
  • Kelly’s Hospitality Group (catering service)
  • Nags Head Surf Fishing Club
  • NC Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA)
  • NC Sea Hags (Ladies Surf Fishing Team)
  • Oceans East Bait and Tackle
  • Outer Banks Anglers Club
  • Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
  • Pier Owners/ Operators (Avalon, Nags Head, Jennette’s, Outer Banks)
  • TW’S Bait & Tackle (Kitty Hawk)
  • Walmart Supercenter (Kitty Hawk)


fishing blog 5
Dominion Energy (Kitty Hawk) Volunteers


fishing blog 6
Outer Banks Anglers Club Volunteers 


Volunteers (in alphabetical order)

  • Greg Cremia, NHSFC, Awards Ceremony Photographer
  • Tony Garrett, NHSFC, Jennette’s Pier Captain 
  • Candi George, NHSF, Registration and help at Jennette’s pier
  • Bobby Halstead, NHSFC, Outer Banks Pier Captain
  • Rose Lay, NHSFC, Nags Head Pier Captain & Chief Scorekeeper
  • Dave Masters, Jr., President NHSFC, Master of Ceremonies, Facebook 
  • Paula Masters, NHSFC, Photographer, Awards Ceremony Organizer 
  • Carol Mowers, NCBBA, Avalon Pier Captain 
  • Denine Phillips, NHSFC, Roving Reporter, Photographer 
  • Allison Rucker, NHSFC, Trophies
  • Banquet Hall Duty: Lee Barret, Charlie Burroughs, Rob Crawford, Tony Garrett, Candi George, Bobby Halstead, Dave Masters, Paula Masters, Walter Nein, Denine Phillips, John Phillips, Sammy Thorton, Ruth Thorton 


fishing blog 8
6:30am registration begins
fishing blog 8
Fishbites for all!
fishing blog 9
Showin' some love for fishing
fishing blog10
Prize-winning flounder!
fishing blog11
Largest fish???
fishing blog12
Getting in the spirit
fishing blog 13
Flounder gather-rounder
fishing blog14
Nice spadefish!
fishing blog15
Happy young anglers!