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Tournament Reports –Topsail Spring Surf and Pier Challenge

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The Topsail Spring Surf & Pier Fishing Challenge attracted a record number of pier anglers and a predictable number of surf anglers in 2019. There were 70 anglers in the Pier Division, spread out over the three Topsail piers—Seaview, Surf City, and Jolly Roger. Then 124 anglers signed up for the Surf Division, plying the waters from North Topsail beach down to Topsail Beach.

Robert Carter, from Elizabethtown, took top sea mullet honors in the Surf Division with a 1.8 lb. fish weighed in at 9:00 am on Sunday. He was fishing the south end around 7th Street when the big mullet hit a large piece of shrimp on a Carolina rig. Carter had been working a deep pocket of water over the course of the weekend, and his winning fish came on the low tide.

“We were catching sea mullet all weekend,” said Carter, “but that fish was clearly the biggest. Most were around half a pound.”

Second place went to another 1.8 lb. sea mullet, a fish weighed in by Bradley Johnson at 10:05 am on Sunday, and third place went to Johnny Barefoot with a 1.6 lb. sea mullet.

The Flounder Division for surf anglers was won by Britt Martin, of Hillsborough. He only caught two flounder over the course of the entire weekend, one a 12” fish hooked on Saturday morning, and then the 1.7 lb. flattie that came around noon.

Martin had fresh shrimp on a modified Carolina rig and was fishing the north end near the New River Inlet. His winning bite came at low tide, and only after he had walked way out on the exposed sand and low water to throw into some fresh water.

The winners of the Topsail Spring Surf & Pier Fishing Challenge gather after awards for the traditional leaderboard photo. The event attracted 70 pier anglers and 124 surf anglers.

Second place went to Todd Andrews with a 1.4 lb. fish, and those were the only two flatfish weighed in by surf anglers.

The big bluefish for the Surf Division went to Joelle Tooman, from Cary. She brought mullet fillets from Carolina Beach and was soaking one on a Carolina rig just south of Jolly Roger Pier when her winning 3.0 lb. fish hit.

The tide was switching over from low, and she was targeting a trough that lead to a bowl. Prior, she had only been catching a number of small blues (other than an even bigger blue that chewed through the leader).

Brian Ready took second place with a 2.7 lb. fish weighed in Saturday evening, and Dale Traxler took third for a 1.7 lb. blue weighed in Sunday morning.

In the Black Drum Division, Kent Gatewood took top honors with a 6.4 lb. fish. Second place went to Bradley Johnson for a 5.4 lb. black drum, and Tori Barefoot took third for a 4.6 lb. drum.

The largest payout of the Surf Division came from the Red Drum TWT, where Michael Tickle, from Sanford, took the big prize. His 5.9 lb. red drum was caught on cut shrimp on a bottom rig to the left of Jolly Roger Pier. He caught a couple of smaller reds—one before measuring 24”, and one after measuring 22”—but the winning red drum was the only fish he weighed in all weekend.

In the Pier Division, the top sea mullet came from Bradley Jordan, a 1.8 lb. fish weighed in Sunday morning. Jordan was followed by Larry Tuttle, who weighed in a 1.3 lb. sea mullet early Sunday morning.

Jason Sholar, from Wallace, took the pier title for black drum, weighing in a 3.6 lb. fish. He was fishing just behind the breakers off of Surf City Pier using cut shrimp on a bottom rig. His black drum bite came just two hours after the tournament started.

“I put my pole in the water at midnight, and that was the first fish that hit,” Sholar remembered.

Sholar also won Pier Cup honors, returning the prestigious trophy to Surf City Pier until it will be defended in the fall event.

The top flounder for pier anglers came from Jolly Roger Pier. Joshua Sloop, from Surf City, caught a 2.9 lb. flounder using a live shrimp on a Carolina rig. His big flattie was part of a Saturday limit of keepers.

“I steadily caught them all the way until midday until the tide flipped,” Sloop explained. “Low tide is when they stopped biting.”

Second place was captured by Todd Brantley for a 1.7 lb. flounder.

In the Bluefish Division, pier angler Mirza Rustemov edged out a win with a 2.5 lb. blue, and coming in second was Jonathan Thalheimer with a 2.4 lb. bluefish.

The Pier Trout TWT went to Scott Myers, with a 0.9 lb. speck, the only trout weighed in all weekend.

In other awards, Kylynna Green was the top junior angler for a 2.2 lb. bluefish, Tori Barefoot was the lady angler champion for her 4.6 lb. black drum, and Glenn Lanier was the best of the seniors, weighing in a 3.4 lb. black drum.

For a more complete leaderboard, as well as for information on the Topsail Fall Surf & Pier Fishing Challenge, please visit