Sarah Gagliardo

Tournament Report – Topsail Fall Surf & Pier Fishing Challenge

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Anglers battled gusty winds and choppy surf along the beaches and piers of Topsail Island the weekend of November 4-6, 2016 in the Fisherman’s Post Topsail Fall Surf & Pier Challenge. Anglers competed in four categories in both the surf and pier divisions, with optional (and separate) Red Drum Calcuttas.

Todd Andrews, of Hampstead, took the Surf Flounder Division, with a 2.1 lb. flatfish. Andrews fishes the tournament every year and was pleasantly surprised when the flounder hit a strip of bluefish belly on a Carolina rig. “It was hard to catch anything big enough to keep, but the water laid down Saturday and we were able to catch some keepers,” said Andrews. “I was hoping I’d place, but I didn’t think that the fish would win.”

The Surf Black Drum Division was won with a 6.3 lb. fish caught by Thomas Kelly, of Goldsboro, with shrimp on a bottom rig. “I was catching sea mullet and small black drum before I hooked this one,” explained Kelly. “I figured it might be close to a winner and that we might be a contender, but when Sunday came we were like ‘Dang!’”

Kelly stayed on the beach most of the 36 hours, only leaving twice to eat, and reflects that it was quite an experience and “something to be proud of.”

Larry Smith, of Pleasant Garden, won the Sea Mullet Division with a 1.9 lb. sea mullet. Cut mullet and shrimp were the ticket for this angler fishing the middle of the island. When he saw the fish, Smith said, “I thought I had a good chance.”

The Surf Bluefish top spot was taken by Randy Dunn with a 2.1 lb. catch.

The Red Drum TWT in the surf category was won by Tim Combs, Sr., of Aberdeen.

Tim Combs, Sr., of Aberdeen, with a 6.3 lb. red drum. The fish was caught on cut mullet on a circle hook in the surf of Topsail Island. The red drum won the top spot in the Surf Red Drum Calcutta.

Tim Combs, Sr., of Aberdeen, with a 6.3 lb. red drum. The fish was caught on cut mullet on a circle hook in the surf of Topsail Island. The red drum won the top spot in the Surf Red Drum Calcutta.

Combs said, “I was fishing with cut mullet and a circle hook when I hooked the red drum.” The fish, weighing in at 6.3 lbs., was the biggest redfish that Combs had ever caught, and it put on quite the fight.

“The fish was a real hoss on the line. When I saw it, I thought I had a good opportunity to place. My son was watching the leaderboard, and he encouraged me to take it in to get it weighed, so I reeled in and headed to Seaview,” said Combs.

The Pier Bluefish Category was dominated by Jimmy Reichart, who weighed in a 1.1 lb. fish to take the top spot. “It was a hell of a tournament. I loved it and had a great time,” said Reichart, who used a chartreuse and white Gotcha plug to nab the winning fish off Jolly Roger Pier.

“I caught a 0.9 lb. fish Saturday morning and weighed it in, then later I weighed in the heavier fish. I thought maybe I would place, but I was surprised to find out I was top of the leaderboard on Sunday.”

Douglas Keicher, of Winston-Salem, secured the Pier Flounder Division with the 1.5 lb. flatfish he landed Saturday using finger mullet on a Carolina rig. Keicher was fishing Surf City Pier, where he fishes often, when he caught the winning fish. “I didn’t think it would last the whole weekend on the board, but it did,” said Keicher.

The winners of the 2016 Topsail Island Fall Surf & Pier Fishing Challenge. Competitors fished thirty six hours over the weekend of November 6-8 in four categories in both the surf and pier divisions, with optional (and separate) Red Drum Calcuttas.

The winners of the 2016 Topsail Island Fall Surf & Pier Fishing Challenge. Competitors fished thirty six hours over the weekend of November 6-8 in four categories in both the surf and pier divisions, with optional (and separate) Red Drum Calcuttas.

The Pier Black Drum category was won by tournament veteran Harry Sholar, with a 3.8 lb. catch. Fishing with bloodworms and Fishbites off of Surf City Pier, Sholar nabbed a 2.1 lb. fish before catching at least five more black drum in increasing sizes as the night went along. “I moved on up the leaderboard as I caught the fish. I thought I had a good shot with the 3.8 lb. fish,” said Sholar of his win. Sholar also secured the Pier Cup for Surf City Pier.

Bringing up the final category on the leaderboard was Nathan Chang, whose Surf City Pier catch of a 1.4 lb. sea mullet won him first place in the Pier Sea Mullet Division. “I was dying to catch a sea mullet during the tournament, and the guy beside me was catching back-to-back big mullet. So as soon as the clock struck midnight, I threw my bottom rig out with the freshest shrimp I could find, and 13 minutes afterwards I caught the winning fish,” said Chang.

For a full leaderboard and more information on the Topsail Island Surf & Pier Challenge and all Fisherman’s Post’s events, visit www.FishermansPost.com.