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16th KWLA changes rules to lessen impact of Tropical Storm Andrea

Officials with the 16th annual Keli Wagner Lady Angler (KWLA) tournament took action Friday to negate the impact of Tropical Storm Andrea.

The decision was made to give competitors the option to fish either Saturday or Sunday as the remnants of the storm blew through North Carolina waters. That action encouraged 47 teams to sign up and wait to fish Sunday. None of the competing teams elected to fish Saturday. Gulf Stream waters are expected to settle down by Sunday morning.

Last year, Islander lady anglers topped the field of 70 boats with four billfish releases and a record total of 1,050 release points. Competitors hooked and released 15 blue marlins, 12 white marlins and three sailfish in near perfect conditions. The KWLA, which averaged more than 65 boats since 2005, has a recent track record of great weather. But that has not always been the case.

Six of the first seven KWLA’s featured rough offshore conditions. The field of competitors topped 30 boats just once in the first seven years.

But every time the conditions were tough, the competitors were tougher. The event grew despite the blowouts thanks to determined competitors and strong tournament support and leadership.

The Friday night kick-off party was such a huge success. It encouraged more than a dozen teams to climb off the fence and sign up for the competition.

Teams that were still undecided have until 8 a.m Sunday to register for the event.

At this point, lady anglers will battle for $32,441 in prize money. Lady anglers release all billfish that are hooked and donate a large portion of their tournament entry fees to charity.

Last year, $19,975 was raised to help support the Raab Cancer Center in Morehead City. The KWLA has donated more than $162,313 to support the Raab Center and $201,670 since its inception in 1988 to support organizations.

The lady anglers fish Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the the final day before the start of the 55th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament. A Captain’s Party for Bg Rock competitiors starts Saturday night at 7 p.m. It is the traditional kickoff for the six-day competition that starts Monday.

As of 3:45 p.m. Saturday, 71 boats had registered for the 55th Big Rock ... a number that’s slightly behind the pace of previous Big Rock tournament registrations. More registrations are expected to take place Saturday night at the Crystal Coast Civic Center, site of the Big Rock's Captain's Party.

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