NC Saltwater Fishing Tournament

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.

Official Weigh Stations

Saltwater Fishing Tournament FAQs

Current N.C. Saltwater Records

Tab/Accordion Items

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.

Certificate Qualifications

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.

Release Rules

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.

Apply for a Release Citation online

Read and print the Tournament Requirements

Harvested fish must meet either the Minimum Weight or the Minimum Length in order to be eligible for a citation. Released fish must meet the Minimum Length in order to be eligible for a citation.

Species Minimum
Albacore, False 20 lbs. 34 inches
Amberjack 50 lbs. 53 inches
Barracuda 20 lbs. 45 inches
Bass, Black Sea 4 lbs. 18 inches
Bluefish 15 lbs. 34 inches
Cobia 40 lbs. 50 inches
Croaker, Atlantic 1.5 lbs. 14 inches
Dolphin (Mahi) 35 lbs. 57 inches
Drum, Black 30 lbs. 40 inches
Drum, Red Release Only 40 inches
Grunt, White 2 lbs. 16 inches
Jack, Crevalle 15 lbs. 32 inches
Kingfish (Sea Mullet) 2 lbs. 15 inches
Mackerel, King 30 lbs. 54 inches
Mackerel, Spanish 6 lbs. 25 inches
Marlin, Blue Release Only  Any Length
Marlin, White Release Only  Any Length
Pigfish 1.5 lbs. 14 inches
Pompano, Florida 2 lbs. 17 inches
Porgy, Red (Silver Snapper) 4 lbs. 20 inches
Sailfish Release Only Any Length
Seatrout, Spotted (Speckled Trout) 5 lbs. 24 inches
Shark Release Only 80 inches
Sheepshead 8 lbs. 24 inches
Snapper, Vermilion (Beeliner) 3 lbs 19 inches
Spadefish 4 lbs 16 inches
Spearfish Release Only Any Length
Spot 1 lb 12 inches
Swordfish 50 lbs. 70 inches
Tarpon Release Only Any Length
Tilefish, Gray 10 lbs. 28 inches
Triggerfish 5 lbs. 20 inches
Trout, Gray 5 lbs. 24 inches
Tuna, Bigeye 100 lbs. 54 inches (FL)
Tuna, Blackfin 25 lbs. 32 inches (FL)
Tuna, Bluefin 200 lbs. 70 inches (FL)
Tuna, Yellowfin 70 lbs. 50 inches (FL)
Wahoo 40 lbs. 56 inches