Tournament – Ocean Isle Inshore Challenge
The first 2018 Fisherman’s Post Inshore Challenge event, and the first stop on the 2018 Inshore Tournament Trail, took place in Ocean Isle on June 2, where 66 teams set out to catch the biggest red drum and/or flounder in the area. Fighting against dirty water and a chance of rain, “Scales” landed the winning flounder (weighing in at 6.75 lbs.), while “Man O’ War Jr.” reeled in the winning 7.54 lb. red drum.
Both teams found their victories in the Ocean Isle Inshore Challenge to be a little unconventional, as neither team was initially targeting the species that won them their prizes.
Capt. Will Callihan and Jordan Carter, of Team “Scales,” are no strangers to the OIIC, as this was their third time fishing the event. Last year, they placed second in the red drum division, but this year, they found themselves leading the flounder division for most of the tournament.
“We put the boat in Friday afternoon and the water was still dingy, so I was a little bit worried,” Callihan stated. The team had been fishing on the weekends leading up to the event, and they found that conditions hadn’t necessarily been ideal. By the time the OIIC got underway on Saturday, though, they were pleased to see that the water had cleared up significantly.
The initial strategy was to go for red drum as the pair set out early Saturday toward the South Carolina line. Stopping near Little River, they reeled in a 27.5” red on just the second cast, with a 22” fish already in the boat.
When they started to run low on bait and couldn’t find any in the immediate area, they headed to the Shallotte River. Finding another boat in a spot they had in mind for drum fishing, it was time for what Callihan referred to as “kinda plan B,” which was to start targeting flounder. They caught their winning fish soon after near the mouth of the Shallotte River on a 5” menhaden.
All total, “Scales” reeled in 5 flounder and 3 red drum, only one of which (the initial 22” red) was in the slot.
The red drum bite did work out for Capt. Casey Miller, though, who led “Man O’ War Jr.” to victory with a late afternoon weigh-in. Miller, who is somewhat new to inshore tournament fishing (but no stranger to king and offshore tournaments), had a great time fishing his first OIIC this year.
After a slow day of pre-fishing on Friday, while Miller had a general idea of what he wanted to do on Saturday, he had no concrete strategy. Miller had entered the Flounder TWT and spent all morning trying to catch a good flatfish, but while the team was hitting all their favorite holes, “nothing was really knockin’ at em.”
The water conditions also weren’t what they were hoping for, affecting their attempts at catching a decent flounder. “We even tasted the water in a few different spots and it wasn’t very salty,” Miller said.
Around midday, they decided to switch to red drum territory, and soon after they reeled in their winning fish, which was caught on a pogie on the ocean-side marsh of the ICW.
Miller shared the victory with the two other members of his team—brother Taylor Miller and buddy Ryan Cloninger.
“Scales” and “Whatever’s Chewin’” both won their respective TWTs and were also both registered for the 2018 Fisherman’s Post Inshore Tournament Trail, which not only won them even more money at the OIIC, but put both of them atop the Trail standings and earned them an early spot in the invite-only Championship event to be held at the conclusion of the season.
“Killin’ Time” took second place in the flounder division and TWT with a 5.78 lb. fish. In the red drum division, “Lunar Low” took second with a 7.50 lb. fish (and first in the TWT) and “Lee’s Equipment” rounded out the top 3 with a 7.28 lb. red (and came in second in the TWT).
In the Aggregate competition, “Whatever’s Chewin’” took home the prize (one flounder and one red drum) with a combined total weight of 12.06 lbs.
Aiden Frye won the Junior Angler prize with a 7.10 lb. red, Dana Palmer took the Lady Angler prize with a 5.85 lb. red, and Bobby Meares, the first to weigh in a fish, secured his Senior Angler victory early with a 6.56 lb. red.
The next stop on the Inshore Tournament Trail is the Topsail Inshore Challenge, which will be held June 29-30. More info can be found under “Tournaments” at www.FishermansPost.com.