Tournament – Topsail Spring Surf & Pier Fishing Challenge
The Fisherman’s Post 2018 Topsail Spring Surf & Pier Fishing Challenge took place May 4-6 and provided anglers with 36 hours of round-the-clock fishing to find the biggest fish in the waters of Topsail Beach in order to win hefty payouts. The bi-annual event was once again a success, with numerous fish weighed in and plenty of checks written.
There were four categories for each division (bluefish, black drum, sea mullet, and flounder), and a Red Drum TWT was offered in the surf division. The rules were simple: from midnight Friday to 12:00 noon on Sunday, find the biggest fish in each category and weigh it in before the deadline. As long as the fish were caught from a stretch of Topsail Island surf or from any of its three piers, they were fair game.
In the Surf Division, Bruce Irwin caught the winning flounder at 1.7 lbs., and Keith Watson snagged the winning sea mullet, also weighing in at 1.7 lbs. The winning red drum was hooked by Earl Coe, a slot fish that weighed 5.8 lbs.
In the bluefish category, winner Dugan Frazier’s strategy, who caught his 7.5 lb. blue just before 11:00 pm Saturday, was simple: “I found a hole at low tide that afternoon and went back out there at night.” He caught his prize blue on cut bunker, but he wasn’t targeting bluefish specifically.
“That’s how it goes,” he said, commenting on a bluefish’s penchant to go for any type of bait at any time. This was only Frazier’s 2nd time fishing the Topsail surf tournament, but he’s a regular at the Pleasure Island Surf Challenge.
The winning black drum, a 5.5 lb., 20.75” fish, was a last minute victory for Greg Martin, who weighed it in around 11:20 am on Sunday. After losing an 8 lb. drum and starting to grow tired of the rain when fishing the night before, Martin had turned in, accidentally leaving his bait shrimp out overnight. When he returned to fish again in the morning, he found that the bait “looked like shrimp scampi… it was pink,” he laughed. With time as a factor, though, he decided he had to try it. Fishing a hole where he caught the winning redfish in November 2017’s tournament, he would go on to catch seven black drum in about an hour’s length of time, one of which was his winning fish.
In the Pier Division, Christ Hager weighed in the winning blue with a 10.1 lb. chopper, while previous tournament winner Darry Sloop caught the biggest flounder, a 1.5 lb. fish.
The black drum prize went to Michael Maese, who landed his 3.3 lb. fish on fresh shrimp just after sunup on Saturday. Maese would go on to catch a plethora of fish over the weekend, including another 2.7 lb. black drum.
Second place winner Ed Cloninger, who caught a 2.5 lb. black drum, was actually a good friend of Maese’s, and the two “went out and partied” after their wins. Maese says that he and his buddies usually fish the Topsail Spring and Fall Challenges, and while they’ve done it for the last three of four years, this is his first time placing.
The winning sea mullet, a 1.57 lb. fish, was caught by Paul Christy at 11:30 am. Christy credits his win to two factors: he values the importance of having the freshest shrimp possible (he made 40 calls and drove 45 minutes to get his), and he knows how to read the beach and see where the ocean has carved out new spots. He caught the mullet “in the suds on the high tide” after pre-fishing and watching the weather.
“I knew the southwest wind was a good thing, and I knew there would be fish in there,” he said. Christy, who is recently retired, has been fishing at Topsail since he was about ten, but this is his first time fishing a Fisherman’s Post tournament.
More details, including a complete leaderboard, can be found at www.FishermansPost.com. The Topsail Fall Surf & Pier event is scheduled for November 2-4, 2018.