The North Carolina Saltwater Fishing Tournament, also known as the Citation Program, recognizes exceptional catches of North Carolina’s most popular sport fish. The tournament runs from January 1 to December 31 each year and is open to any angler, except those who captain or work on a for-hire vessel or those who sell their fish. To qualify for a citation, the fish must be caught on hook-and-line and landed without the use of electric or hydraulic equipment. The fish must meet program size requirements, be weighed at an official weigh station and then recorded on an official application form. For release citations, an angler or mate must touch the fish or the leader.
To be eligible for an award, all applications must be received by January 15 of the following year. For example, for a fish caught in the year 2022, the citation application must be received no later than January 15, 2023.
Fish shall be caught in accordance with North Carolina State and Federal laws and regulations as well as the N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament rules. Everyone is eligible except a charter boat captain or a crewman of a for-hire boat or anyone who offers fish for sale. Weighmasters or their employees are eligible for awards, provided a witness signs verification. Eligible waters include all North Carolina sounds, estuaries, surf and the Atlantic Ocean. No registration fee is required.
All fish must be caught on hook and line and landed or brought to gaff or net by the angler. No electric or hydraulic equipment is allowed. Fish must be weighed by an authorized weighmaster (or his/her representative) at an official weigh station. Each fish must be recorded on an official application form, signed by the angler and by a weighmaster. Snagged, mutilated, scaled, speared, frozen, or shot fish are not eligible. The weighmaster reserves the right to cut, open, or mark the fish after it has been weighed.
Angler or mate must touch the fish or the leader. Application must be completed with exception of length and weight (false albacore, amberjack, atlantic bonito, barracuda, cobia, black drum, jack crevalle, king mackerel, shark, striped bass, gray trout, speckled trout and red drum must have the length recorded). A witness must sign the application.
|Albacore, False||Release Only||34 inches|
|Amberjack||50 lbs.||50 inches|
|Barracuda||Release Only||45 inches|
|Bass, Black Sea||4 lbs.||N/A|
|Bluefish||15 lbs.||34 inches|
|Cobia||40 lbs.||36 inches|
|Drum, Black||Release Only||40 inches|
|Drum, Red||Release Only||40 inches|
|Gag Grouper||20 lbs.||N/A|
|Jack, Crevalle||Release Only||32 inches|
|Mackerel, King||30 lbs.||45 inches|
|Mackerel, Spanish||6 lbs.||N/A|
|Marlin, Blue||400 lbs.||Any Length|
|Marlin, White||Release Only||Any Length|
|Mullet, Sea||2 lbs.||N/A|
|Pompano, Florida||2 lbs.||N/A|
|Porgy (Silver Snapper)||4 lbs.||N/A|
|Sailfish||Release Only||Any Length|
|Shark||Release Only||80 inches|
|Spearfish||Release Only||Any Length|
|Swordfish||50 lbs.||Any Length|
|Tarpon||Release Only||Any Length|
|Tilefish, Gray||12 lbs.||N/A|
|Trout, Gray||5 lbs.||24 inches|
|Trout, Speckled||5 lbs.||24 inches|
|Tuna, Bigeye||100 lbs.||N/A|
|Tuna, Blackfin||25 lbs.||N/A|
|Tuna, Bluefin||200 lbs.||70 inches|
|Tuna, Yellowfin||70 lbs.||N/A|