Morehead City Inshore Challenge
Squeaking into first place by just a hundredth of a pound, Capt Wayne Crisco and Don Parker, Surf City’s “Last Resort Charters” fishing team, scaled a 4.72 lb. flatfish to take the top spot on the flounder leaderboard in the inaugural Fisherman’s Post Morehead City Inshore Challenge, held July 20-21 out of Town Creek Marina.
Crisco and Parker stuck close to home at the beginning of their tournament day, catching bait near Sneads Ferry and then beginning the hunt for a fat flatfish.
“We started out at a spot near Sneads Ferry where I’ve caught a lot of good flounder,” Crisco explained, “but after about 10-12 butterfly rays it was time to move on.”
After making brief stops at a nearby inlet and a Swansboro dock with only some small flounder to show for it, the anglers decided to gamble on their experience and head to unfamiliar waters in Morehead.
“We’d never fished up there,” Crisco continued, “but we know how to catch flounder, so we said we’d apply what we know down here up there.”
After making the run, the anglers started fishing around the Atlantic Beach Bridge, and Crisco quickly found what he was looking for.
“I saw a beautiful ledge on the depthfinder,” Crisco said, “and thought there’s got to be one there.”
He and Parker began dropping Carolina-rigged finger mullet to the spot, a drop-off going from 14-22’ of water near one of the large span’s pilings, and a solid strike confirmed his suspicions.
“I got a good thump on my first cast and thought it was a flounder,” Crisco explained, “but I didn’t hook him. Then we got into the rays again.”
Several rays later, as Crisco was battling yet another one, Parker found what they were looking for.
“Don had come in behind me where I got that first bite,” the captain recalled. “I had another ray on when he looked over at me and said, ‘I need the net.’ I stuck my rod in a holder and netted that fish.”
Crisco hauled the fat flatfish over the gunnel around 11:30, and the anglers continued fishing, targeting more deep structure around Morehead, before deciding to head for the scales in the midafternoon.
“We fished the train trestle for a while,” Crisco said, “but that storm was moving in and we figured we’d done what we could do, so we headed to the scales.”
Finishing just shy of the “Last Resort,” anglers Al Fulford and the “Flounder Nuts” anglers took second place with a 4.71 lb. flatfish that also earned Teresa Fulford the event’s Top Lady Angler honors. Joe Desper and the “Mailman/Beach Music” anglers weren’t far behind with a 4.64 lb. flatfish good for third. Blake Stone secured fourth place on the flatfish leaderboard with a 3.86 lb. flounder, and Matt Davis rounded out the top five with a 3.56 lb. fish.
Weighing the only red drum over the course of the event were the “Sandbar Safari” anglers—Capt. Rob Koraly and Meredith Herndon—with a 3.84 lb. red.
“We just figured we’d go have a good time since this is a more laid back tournament,” Koraly said. “Since we can fish live baits I figured we could get a good 26” red around Swansboro and then head to Morehead and look for a decent flounder. That path ended up taking a lot longer than I thought it would.”
Koraly was actually thinking flounder at the spot where they landed their winning red, the Queens Creek Bridge.
Casting finger mullet around the span, Herndon hooked their first red of the day early in morning, but lost the fish to a cut-off.
“We could’ve had the drag cranked down more,” Koraly explained, “but I though the fish was further out from the bridge than it was. It made a run and cut her off on the bridge. I think that fish was bigger than the one we weighed.”
As Koraly made another Carolina rig to replace the lost one, Herndon hooked up yet again.
“I was tying a knot when she hooked that one,” he continued. “She put that fish in the boat all on her own.”
With a 23” red in the boat, the anglers continued looking for a flounder around the bridge, but they were unable to find one by the time some weather drove them off the water.
“That storm came up,” Koraly said, “and we had to take shelter for a couple hours. I was waiting to run to Morehead when the rain stopped, but I started to think it was never going to.”
When there was finally a break in the weather, the anglers took off for Morehead City, hoping to squeeze in a bit of flounder fishing before the scales closed at 4:00.
“We were able to stop at one spot and make two casts,” Koraly said, “before I looked at my watch and realized we had to go. At least we can say we tried.”
More information on the Morehead Inshore Challenge and the other events in the Fisherman’s Post Inshore Tournament Trail are available at fishermanspost.com.