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Tournament – Topsail Fall Surf and Pier Fishing Challenge

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The Topsail Fall Surf and Pier Fishing Challenge was once again successful thanks to a strong number of anglers storming the beaches and piers of Topsail Island on the weekend of November 3-5 for 36 hours of competition to find the biggest fish in eight categories and two TWTs.

The surf anglers and pier anglers competed separately, each going for the largest bluefish, flounder, black drum, and sea mullet. The Surf TWT was for the largest slot-sized red drum, and the Pier TWT this year was for speckled trout.


The winners of the 2017 Topsail Fall Surf & Pier Challenge pose with their plaques and checks at the end of Sunday’s awards ceremony and raffle.


In the surf division, Raymundo Colmenares walked away a winner thanks to a 5.9 lb. bluefish, which he caught 500’ from a local pier on a fresh mullet. This was Colmenares’ first tournament, and he and his two friends were fishing for anything that would bite. The winning blue was pulled in early Sunday morning, and Colmenares said, “I’m happy because this is my first time competing in the tournament.”

Dale Traxler caught the winning 1.9 lb. flounder, which he pulled in midday Saturday near the south end of the island.

“We found a good spot that had a good cut in,” Traxler said, describing how he was aiming for the front side of a sandbar about 200 yards offshore. He was using cut mullet on a fish finder rig and was actually targeting blues and drum, not flounder. At the end of the day, though, it would be a flattie that got him a trophy.

Keith Boughton, no stranger to the black drum division at the TFSPC, won this year with a 2.8 lb. fish caught around 4:00 am on Saturday. Boughton was fishing with shrimp just north of the Seaview Pier and was targeting all five species. He narrowly missed placing in the Red Drum TWT and pulled in a couple of blues and around 20 sea mullet over the course of the weekend. However, the black drum bite was once again the ticket for Boughton. He took second place last year and won the black drum division in 2015.

Mike Foy took the surf sea mullet trophy with his 1.7 lb. fish, caught around 10:00 am on Saturday toward the south end of the island. Foy was specifically targeting sea mullet. Using sand fleas and shrimp, he would catch 25 over the course of the tournament.

The Red Drum TWT was won this year by Britt Martin of Hillsborough, who pulled in a 26.5”, 7.4 lb. fish around 2:00 am on Sunday morning. Martin hesitated before weighing the drum in, thinking that it might have been just barely out of the slot.

“I would hate to get up there and he’s going to be too big,” Martin remembers thinking, adding that every minute spent weighing a fish in is a minute spent without bait in the water.

Martin fished for 30 hours over the course of the tournament and didn’t move more than 15’ in either direction from his spot just north of Seaview Pier. He would catch 11 reds total, with two of them just out of the slot. His trophy drum was caught with a cut-in-half pinfish on a high/low rig.

On the pier side, Jeff Hubbard won the bluefish division with his 1.8 lb. blue, which he pulled in Saturday around 7:15 am from Jolly Roger Pier. Hubbard was fishing a 1 oz. red and white Gotcha plug and was targeting blues specifically. He caught the winning fish when he “saw a school of baitfish jumping and cast in amongst it.” He would catch twelve blues total over the course of the tournament.

Darry Sloop won the sea mullet division with his first catch of the tournament—a very respectable 1.4 lb. fish that fell for a piece of cut shrimp. Sloop says, “I got out there to start fishing the tournament at 5:30 Saturday morning and had just hooked up the first rig and was tying the second one when it hit, so I fished 36 hours for nothing—but I had a blast doing it!”

A 2.9 lb. speckled trout won Harry Sholar the pier division’s Trout TWT. The speck fell for a live shrimp fished off Surf City Pier just before 6:00 am Saturday. Talking about the trout bite, Sholar said, “I was anticipating it to be good that time of the morning when the water was about 6’ in a certain spot.” That certain spot had produced a 4 lb. trout the week before, and it would give Sholar a handful of specks over the course of the tournament.

The biggest winner of the weekend was undoubtedly Gregorio Vazquez of Richlands, NC, who took three separate awards (flounder, black drum, and the Pier Cup) and walked away with a healthy chunk of prize money. His 1.7 lb. flounder was caught just after noon on Saturday on a live shrimp, while his 2.8 lb. black drum fell for a bloodworm. Both were caught off the Jolly Roger Pier, which Vazquez fishes frequently.


Gregorio Vazquez took first in two pier categories in the 2017 Topsail Fall Surf & Pier Challenge with a 1.7 lb. flounder and a 2.8 lb. black drum. The black drum brought the Pier Cup to the Jolly Roger Pier.


The 2.8 lb. black drum was the heaviest pier leaderboard fish of the weekend, also earning Vazquez the Pier Cup.“I was happy to win the cup for the Jolly Roger,” said Vazquez, who also caught some impressive trout and flounder over the weekend.

The Junior Angler champion this year was Jesse Fesmire, who took the title with a 2.2 lb. black drum. The winner of the Lady Angler trophy was Holly Tooley thanks to a beautiful 2.5 lb. bluefish, and Robert Davis took the Senior Angler division with a 1.9 lb. black drum.

For more information on the event, including a complete leaderboard, please visit