Gary Hurley

Tidelines – March 23, 2017

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Am I like you? Right now I’m more than ready to get some more fishing time in in 2017. I’m over the cold weather and craving time on the water.

Sure I’ve been lucky enough to fit a couple of trips in since New Year’s, but it seems like only a couple and that’s not near enough.

My one fishing highlight of January was the annual Striperfest, a tag-and-release fishing tournament that serves as part of the big fundraiser weekend for the Cape Fear River. This year was my first time fishing with Capt. Allen Cain, of Sightfish NC, and he guided our media boat to a respectable finish, tagging five stripers over the course of the slightly abbreviated fishing day. None of our fish, which mostly came from tossing big swim baits up close to the shore line, qualified for any of the top awards, but at least we stayed in the boat and we didn’t get skunked (each of those two Striperfest captains knows who I’m talking about).

You can find a more complete write up on Striperfest on page 32, but you’ll have to fish the Cape Fear River Watch event next year to experience firsthand the banquet, the camaraderie, the smack talk, the pancake breakfast, and the day of a thousand casts.

Capt. Jamie Rushing, of Seagate Charters, took me back out on the Cape Fear River on a gorgeous, bluebird day in February for some more striper action. Even though the trip was cut a little short to allow me an early morning doctor’s appointment and Jamie time enough in the mid-afternoon to pick his girl up from school, we had a relaxing and a productive day, casting mostly soft plastics and landing numerous stripers and red drum—sometimes from separate banks, structure, and creek mouths, and sometimes our reds and stripers came from the same spot.

Capt. Jamie Rushing (right), of Seagate Charters, poses unashamedly for a selfie. He caught the striper (which was carrying a $100 tag) in the Cape Fear River near some structure.

Then in early March my one fishing day came courtesy of Capt. Dave Stewart, of Knee Deep Custom Charters. My buddy John and I met him at the boat ramp between Minnesott Beach (his home) and Oriental, and we covered a lot of water in Dawson Creek. The trout bite, typical for that time of year, was on and off all day. When the day was done, though, we had culled a livewell full of 2+ lb. speckled trout caught on hard baits.

And as it goes with most fishing trips, the chatter on the boat was a big part of the memory of each trip.

Dave—Next time I’m bringing the same yogurt-granola-cinnamon-honey-fruit concoction for breakfast just so you can make fun of me again, because I love the irony of you calling me a hippie.

Jamie—I can’t believe you didn’t joke me more when I pulled out my “Christmas gift” selfie stick to take photos of our first couple of fish. I know who I am, but I’m a little surprised that you didn’t have more self-respect than to pose so readily for a Fisherman’s Post “selfie.”

Allen—I’m going to choose not to joke anything about you or our trip because I’m really hoping to come visit you in Louisiana and sight cast to those big red drum. And when I say visit you, I mean show up with no place to stay and no money budgeted to actually pay you for the charter (or should I say charters).

Part of the reason that my fishing time has been a little compromised this time of year is because we’ve been busy making big plans for the new season, and the biggest new thing we’ve been working hard on all winter is the brand new Pleasure Island Team Surf Fishing Challenge.

However, the best laid plans of mice and men…

Unfortunately, instead of making a big announcement in this issue about our new Pleasure Island spring surf fishing event with a new team structure, I’m making the announcement that this new event isn’t going to happen in 2017. The world, it seems, is working against us.

Our first setback came when someone reached out to us near the start of the year and brought to our attention that the weekend we had selected (May 19-21) was the same weekend as the Jeep Go Topless Day, an annual and national event where approximately 500+ jeeps convene on Freeman Park that Saturday.

Capt. Dave Stewart (right, and looking like a throwback hippie), of Knee Deep Custom Charters, and Gary Hurley with two of the keeper trout they caught covering water in Dawson Creek.

Freeman Park can be a crazy place on any given weekend, but mixing a bunch of surf anglers with all those jeeps (I was told that all the jeeps meet near Monkey Junction and then travel in a single file line down to Freeman Park, and when the first jeep arrives at the North End, the last jeep hasn’t even left Monkey Junction yet) would have probably pushed past the manageable limit of even the often chaotic North End.

So we moved the event earlier in the calendar to April 28-30, but then a press release arrives in my Inbox talking about the dredging that will be happening on the North End from April 1 to May 1 (and probably lasting beyond May 1). While Freeman Park should remain open the entire time, the beach will be closed north of Zone 10, basically where everyone wants to fish when they go on the North End.

The last straw. The final nail in the coffin.

Stay tuned—maybe next year is the year of the PI Team event. For now, though, please enjoy the March 23 issue, go fishing, and send us your photos.

And remember: friends don’t let friends use selfie sticks.