Consider yourself an award wining fisherman? Then you just might benefit from North Carolina’s Citation Program. While a “citation” can generally have a bad connotation, (think speeding ticket), the citation program regulated by the NC Marine Fisheries is a way for local and visiting anglers alike to prove that their big catch reeled in on the Outer Banks is more than just a tall fish tale.
A citation is basically an award certificate that the state distributes to recognize especially great catches, with the type of fish displayed proudly on the certificate, as well as the angler’s name. A citation can be distributed for a number of different types of fish which are common off the Carolina coast, and the weight for a fish to be eligible varies by each species.
If there’s an inkling that your catch of the day is particularly larger than the average species, stop by a local tackle store with a scale to see if you are eligible for the North Carolina Citation. You will need to fill out an application for the citation, and you will need a witness. It never hurts to take a few photos too, just to bolster your case. Try to get to a tackle store as soon as possible after you reel in your catch, as fish can lose weight as they lose water. If you fit the size requirements for a citation, and have filled out the application, then you’ll receive your certificate in the mail a few weeks later, ready to frame to acknowledge your perfect big catch.
Some types of fish might be too big to keep, (like drum, for example, as you must throw back especially large drum.) For this reason, citations are generally reserved for smaller species, like trout, Sheapshead, croaker, and sea mullet. It’s best to check out the NC Marine Fisheries website to see which fish are eligible for a citation, and how big they will need to be.
The lure of a citation might just make your fishing efforts that much better, and who knows? At the end of your vacation, you might end up with proof of you big catch, ready to hold a place of honor on your mantle.