Cape Fear Flounder Classic
There’s never a better time to catch the biggest fish of your angling career than on tournament day, and that’s exactly what Fayetteville, NC’s Tim Lee did, landing a 10.10 lb. flounder during the 3rd Annual Cape Fear Flounder Classic, held July 28 out of Southport Marina, to earn first place and over $3,000.
Lee, fishing with John Balentine, Yogi Martin, and Michael Clark aboard the 22’ Hydra-Skiff “Second Cast,” pre-fished the day before the event and found some hungry flatfish to return to in the competition.
“I caught five fish in that same spot,” Lee explained, “and I left them biting. I’m so glad I didn’t catch that big one the day before.”
Lee and his companions loaded up their livewell with finger mullet on the morning of the competition and came back to the spot near the Pfizer dock on the Southport waterfront where he’d found action the previous day. They didn’t have to wait long for action.
“We had lines in the water at 7:00,” Lee continued. “I had a 17-inch fish in the boat at 7:01 and a 22-inch fish at 7:15.”
The doormat that earned the “Second Cast” anglers their victory bit soon after, striking a mullet Lee had cast into 5’ of water.
“When I set the hook in that fish,” Lee recalled, “I knew it was pretty big, but I had no idea how big.”
That didn’t last long, however, as the fish boiled near the boat and gave Lee a glimpse at it.
“He started peeling some drag after that,” he continued, “and came under the boat but he was too far away for the net.”
Lee kept the pressure on, turning the big flatfish back towards the boat. This time, it came a bit too close and Balentine was ready with the net. He scooped the big flatfish into the boat and the anglers began to get excited.
“We were celebrating largely then,” Lee said. “We had a long time till weigh-in, though, so we kept fishing.”
The anglers covered some ground, fishing everywhere from Walden’s Creek to the Oak Island Bridge over the rest of the morning and early afternoon, but they couldn’t replicate their early success.
“We only had two or three throwbacks after that,” said Lee, “and we burnt some gas.”
Around 3:30, the crew headed for Southport Marina and the scales, and they were pleasantly surprised to learn their fish’s official weight.
“It was 29 inches long,” Lee explained. “I was thinking it was at least 8 on the low side, but none of us had any idea it was a 10-pounder.”
Scaling another healthy flounder, Dale and Melvin Darnell earned second place in the event with a 7.65 lb. fish. Lawrence Bennet weighed in a 6.20 lb. fish good for third, and Fred Davis took fourth place with a 5.60 pound flatfish. Blake Stone rounded out the top five with a 4.05 lb. flounder.