Tournament Report – Pleasure Island Surf Fishing Challenge
If there was only one word that could be used to describe the North Carolina surfing fishing community, “resilient” would be it. Though Pleasure Island sustained its fair share of damage during (and after) Hurricane Florence, 510 anglers still showed up to enjoy its beaches during the 2018 Fisherman’s Post Pleasure Island Surf Fishing Challenge, held October 19-21.
After a windy weekend, many of them walked away winners… especially Kevin Jeffery, who took first place in both the flounder and speckled trout divisions.
Jeffery fished for about 18 hours from the start of the tournament until 6:00 pm on Saturday. “The wind started picking up, and I figured that was a good time to go home,” he said. He could afford to, as by that time he had already caught the 22”, 3.9 lb. flounder and 20”, 2.9 lb. trout that would win him a total of $4,100.40. Jeffery was fishing the inlet at the north end of the island using live and cut mullet, and he was targeting flounder, trout, and red drum specifically.
While Jeffery did catch four over-slot reds during the course of the tournament, it would be Andy Couch who found the 7.0 lb. slot fish that won the Red Drum TWT and the $3800 check.
In the black drum division, Robby Talton took first place with a 3.4 lb. fish, which he caught on Saturday. “I’ve caught bigger black drum,” Talton said, “but I’ve never caught a thousand dollar black drum.”
Talton, who hails from Fayetteville, was fishing the PISFC for the first time with his son and a friend. The trio stayed in their spot at Fort Fisher for the duration of the tournament, only moving to the far south end of the island once and then quickly returning.
“We fished like we always fished,” he said. “We hand-tie our lines, use sand fleas, and fish kind of close in the suds.” Talton also caught the second place sea mullet, which was just 0.2 lbs. away from winning him another first place check.
That first place sea mullet check went to 16-year-old Gavin Talley, from Salisbury, for his 1.6 lb. mullet. Talley was with his dad and family friend Daniel when the fish hit between 7:00-8:00 am on Sunday.
The trio was fishing with shrimp and Fishbites and targeting trout and sea mullet specifically. Though he’s been fishing his whole life, this was Talley’s first time at the PISFC. When asked if he was coming back next year, he laughed and replied with a short “Yeah,” as if it wasn’t even a question. He also said he’s thinking about saving his winnings.
Though 2018 saw a lot of new faces, it would be a PISFC veteran who won the bluefish division. Wilmington’s Donald Peterson has been fishing the tournament for way more than a decade, back before it was even a Fisherman’s Post event. However, this was his first time landing a first place fish.
His 1.8 lb. blue fell for a chunk of cut mullet around 8:30 Sunday morning. “There wasn’t a soul around me,” he said, referring to his favorite spot on the south end, “but the fishing was awesome.” He caught about 10 bluefish in that short period of time, after catching a handful of over-slot reds the night before.
Mac Wilkins, another tournament veteran who has made the trip up from Atlanta every year for a decade just to fish the PISFC, also got his first win thanks to a 0.7 lb. pompano. Wilkins was about a quarter mile from the entrance to the beach at Fort Fisher, using bloodworms on a three-hook bottom rig, when his fish struck. It was a bite worth $1,009.
Wilkins, like all the other winners, was excited about his victory, saying of he and his friends, “We will be back for many years to come.”
For a complete leaderboard for the PISFC, as well as information on the next surf fishing tournament November 2-4 on Topsail Island, you can visit www.FishermansPost.com.