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Tournament Reports – Ocean Isle Inshore Challenge

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The 2019 Fisherman’s Post Inshore Trail kicked off as it always does, with the Ocean Isle Inshore Challenge being hosted the weekend after Memorial Day at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center.

This year saw a record 70 boats compete to find the single heaviest flounder and the single heaviest red drum, with teams looking to place in the top eight of either species.

The big winner on the weekend was Team Flounder Fix, comprised of Ray Dixon and Gary Price. In addition to finishing at the top of the flounder leaderboard, the duo also managed to find the sixth heaviest red drum of the event, further fattening their total prize money.

While Flounder Fix ended the day with the heaviest flounder, weighing in at 6.98 lbs., their day didn’t start or go very smoothly. At 4:30 am they discovered their livewell didn’t work, and then after putting a new pump in, they struggled for hours finding bait. It wasn’t until 8:30 that they had bait in the livewell and were heading to a nearshore ledge.

Once on the ledge, they discovered the trolling motor wouldn’t turn on for them to use the spot lock feature, so for the first time in three years, they pulled out an anchor.

Ray Dixon (left) and Gary Price with the biggest flounder and sixth biggest red drum weighed in at the Ocean Isle Inshore Challenge. The duo earned just shy of $2700 for their top finishes.

Then at around 12:00 noon their luck turned for the better, as their big flatfish hit a 5” live pogie and came into the net and over the gunnel.

The team then moved to a nearshore wreck that typically holds red drum, but they found nothing. They moved to another nearshore wreck where they worked to bring up a 5.98 lb. redfish around 1:30 pm. The team picked up and headed to the scales, making it to OIFC around 3:15.

Between the flounder and red drum leaderboard money, as well as the Flounder TWT and Aggregate TWT payouts, the team walked away with almost $2700 in prize money, not including their payouts for being the top Trail boat in flounder and the third place Trail boat in red drum.

In second place on the flounder leaderboard was Sea Squirrel with a 4.35 lb. flatfish, and in third place was Scales with a 3.83 lb. flounder.

In the red drum competition, Team Melon Heads took the honors with a 6.78 lb. red drum. The team was comprised of Patrick Kelly (of Capt. Smiley Fishing Charters), Jimmy Mendillo, and Landon Brice, and they found their money fish off of some flooded grass near the Little River jetties.

Landon Brice with the winning red drum in the Ocean Isle Inshore Challenge. The 6.78 lb. red was caught on cut bait off of some flooded grass near the Little River jetties. Brice was fishing with Patrick Kelly and Jimmy Mendillo.

They had only landed a couple of little reds when their big one took a piece of cut mullet around 10:00 on the outgoing tide. Brice was the angler, bringing the fish into Kelly’s waiting landing net.

The fish measured right at 27”, so they decided they couldn’t upgrade and should target flounder. Though they ran around and landed several flounder just under 15”, ultimately the team didn’t find a keeper and headed to the scales.

With the first place red drum prize money, as well as the top Red Drum TWT payout, the team took home over $1500.

In second place in the Red Drum division was Rod Knocker with a 6.45 lb. redfish, and third place went to Turn It Up for their 6.33 lb. fish.

The Ocean Isle Inshore Challenge is a stand-alone event, but it also serves as the first of five events that make up the Inshore Tournament Trail. For a complete Ocean Isle leaderboard, as well as information on the Trail and the next event in the Trail—the Topsail Inshore Challenge on June 28-29 at East Coast Sports and Sloop Point Boat Storage—please visit www.FishermansPost.com.