Up to 40 teams of fishermen will set out from Sands Beach in Port Royal on Saturday in search of a ferocious fighter that’s also a delicacy on the table – the highly prized redfish.

Money and bragging rights are at stake.

Billing as the Lowcountry’s premier professional tournament, the Southern Redfish Cup is the first professional redfish tournament in the Beaufort area since 2020, said Rob Wells, CEO and president of Visit Beaufort, which monitored the tournament. Purse price is $16,000.

Southern Redfish Cup on Saturday in Port Royal.
Southern Redfish Cup on Saturday in Port Royal. Visit Beaufort

The tournament is run by professional fishermen who are committed to preserving red fish.

“Simply put, these are the tournaments you show up for, or shut up in,” tournament organizers say.

The Lowcountry signature fish, also known as red drum and spotted-tailed sea bass, are predators known to cruise the shallows preying on fish, shrimp and crabs. Sometimes its distinctive tail fin, which has a black dot, breaks the surface of the water as it feeds, which shoots hunters and allows them to hunt by sight.

“You will wake up the red fish in the weeds in these shallow flats and you will see the red fish fall behind,” said Rob Wells, President and CEO of Visit Beaufort. “This is the natural attraction for anglers from all over the world to come to the area.”

Hunters will be after ranger sizes from 15 to 23 inches. The average size is 18 inches and 2.6 pounds, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, but there are “pigs” swimming around there. The South Carolina state record, set in 1965, is 75 lbs.

“It’s a good fighting fish,” Wells said.

This year Port Royal was selected as one of three tournament sites in South Carolina. Wells said Visit Beaufort had contacted the organizers and asked if the circuit could include the Beaufort area.

September is a slower month for the region for visitors. “So we’re looking to build some demand and encourage fishing in the area,” Wells said.

Wells said local fishermen should have the advantage, but 20 to 30 teams from outside the region are expected to compete as well.

All lines must be out of the water by 3:30 p.m. The public weigh-in will take place from 2-3:30pm at the Shellring Ale Works in Port Royal.

Redfish, which like to feed in shallow waters, are known for the distinctive black spot on their tails.
Redfish, which like to feed in shallow waters, are known for the distinctive black spot on their tails. Visit Beaufort

for further information

Register for the tournament at Southernredfishcup.com. Have a look at the catch during the public weigh-in from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Shellring Ale Works, 1111 11th St. This will be followed by the awards ceremony.

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Carl Pocket covers Beaufort, Port Royal, and other communities north of the Broad River for the Beaufort Gazette and Buckett’s Island. The Minnesota native has also worked for newspapers in his home state of Alaska, Wisconsin, and Montana.

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