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Tournament Report – Pleasure Island Surf Fishing Challenge

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The 2017 Pleasure Island Fall Surf Fishing Challenge was a massive success, with a record 592 anglers coming together to compete for the biggest single fish in six different divisions and one TWT. The tournament started at midnight on October 21 and lasted 36 hours until noon on the 22, when the battle-worn anglers came together for a delicious BBQ dinner and awards ceremony.

 

 

Just under $30,000 in cash was awarded to the top five anglers in each of the six divisions (sea mullet, black drum, pompano, trout, bluefish, and flounder), as well as the top three anglers in the Red Drum TWT and the top lady, junior, and senior anglers.

Evelyn McCubbins caught a 2.1 lb. sea mullet to secure her trophy and first place check. The fish was caught on a shrimp at the south end of Pleasure Island near the Fort Fisher Trading Post. McCubbins, who hails from Lexington, NC, fishes the PISFC every year with her big family.

The 4.3 lb. prize-winning black drum was pulled in at about 8:30 am on Saturday morning by Jeremy Grimaldi, who was fishing with sand fleas in the Fort Fisher area. “I would not have fished that spot,” Grimaldi said, “if not for the week before when I saw guys pulling out drum about that same size from there. I said, ‘Well, I know where I’ll be next weekend’.”

Grimaldi, who was competing in his first PISFC tournament, pulled in about 50-60 fish over the course of the weekend (5 of them black drum), but said that the 4.3 lb. fish was the “largest black drum I’ve ever caught.”

The winning pompano, a gorgeous 4.4 lb. fish, was landed by Greg Wester of Lillington, NC. The pompano fell for a shrimp on a double rig with a skirt and was hooked on the south end of Pleasure Island around marker 38. This is Wester’s second year fishing the PISFC, which he attends with 14 others. According to Wester, the pompano “really put up a good fight… I thought it was a drum.” It took 5 minutes for Wester to bring in the fish and secure his first place prize.

The trout division was taken by Scott Dunn, thanks to a late (but beautiful) 2.3 lb. speck that was caught around 10 am on Sunday. The trout fell for a fresh shrimp during the falling tide around beach access 26.

Dunn had an overall successful weekend, with 25 total fish pulled in, and about 20 minutes after Dunn weighed in his first place trout, his cousin pulled in a trout with the exact same weight from a nearby slough which would end up putting him in second place.

Kim Sadler pulled in the winning bluefish, which weighed in at a staggering 13.4 lbs. The monster blue also secured her the win in the Lady Angler division. The fish was caught on cut bait just north of Fort Fisher and only two hours after the tournament started.

 

Kimberly Sadler with the 13.4 lb. bluefish that won the 2017 Pleasure Island Surf Fishing Challenge’s Bluefish division. The fish was weighed in at Island Tackle.

 

When Sadler saw her pole double over, she remembers thinking, “Oh my god, I’ve got a drum!” This would be the first year (out of seven at the PISFC) that she didn’t enter the Red Drum TWT, but it turns out it wouldn’t matter. “He let me know he was going to be big when I felt him run,” she said of the blue, which would take between 15-20 minutes to reel in. Sadler, who fishes the PISFC with her family, says that she’ll be back in two weeks for the Topsail Island Surf & Pier Fishing Challenge and then again next fall for the 2018 PISFC.

Nolan Beaver, of Wilmington, was no doubt the biggest winner of the day. His 5 lb. flatfish and 5.2 lb. redfish won him both the flounder division and the Red Drum TWT. Both fish were caught between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm on Saturday in the same hole, and both were caught on cut mullet. While the flounder was weighed in on that Saturday, Beaver actually waited until just before the final weigh in on Sunday to bring in the red drum, saying, “I didn’t think it was going to be big enough.” The decision to weigh in the drum would net him over $4,000.

As for his strategy, Beaver found a good slough on Pleasure Island’s south end and stuck to it, noting that there were “a lot of really good sloughs with all these hurricanes coming through.” He was targeting red drum, flounder, trout, and blues. While he would not place in the bluefish division, he did secure fourth in the trout division with a 2 lb. fish. Beaver’s total winnings came to just under $7,000, which he will use to help him start his own boat repair business, “Beaver Boat Works.”

Junior Angler was taken by Kobe Windsor with a 3.4 black drum, and Kip Jennings took the Senior Angler division with his 4.3 lb. flounder.

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