Sarah Gagliardo

Angler’s Marine/Ranger Boats Inshore Trail

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Welcome to the 2017 Angler’s Marine/Ranger Boats Inshore Trail, presented by Fisherman’s Post. Yes, the event has a title sponsor in this fifth year of the popular five-event inshore tournament series staged throughout southeastern NC waters, and that title sponsorship means all cash payouts for our top three finishers in both the Red Drum Division and the Flounder Division.

The top finishers in each division will receive $1000, second place finishers will get $500 each, and third place in both divisions will each go home with $250. And thanks to Angler’s Marine and Ranger Boats, all the Inshore Trail money is guaranteed.

As in past years, each of the five events—Ocean Isle, Topsail, Wrightsville Beach, Southport, and Carolina Beach—is a solid, standalone tournament with great payouts and prizes awarded even if you only fish that one single event, but each event also allows participants to accumulate points towards our crowning of a pair of 2017 Angler’s Marine/Ranger Boats Inshore Trail Champions at the culmination of our final event (Carolina Beach).

Once again we’ll be offering both Red Drum and Flounder divisions. Some events (Ocean Isle, Wrightsville, and Carolina Beach) will have split leaderboards for flounder and red drum, and some will focus more on one species (Topsail’s leaderboard will be a two-red drum aggregate but offer a flounder TWT, and Southport’s leaderboard will be a two-flounder aggregate but offer a red drum TWT).

This year the Ocean Isle Inshore Challenge will still be like it is every year—the weekend after Memorial Day weekend—but we made some date changes to our other four events. We’ve spread out the schedule to feature one event per month. This will give anglers more time between events to plan and get ready for the next event. So with our first event in June, that means that Southport (our fourth event) will happen in September (a better month for flounder than early August) and our fifth event—the Carolina Beach Inshore Challenge—will be in October, perhaps the best month for inshore fishing in North Carolina waters.

Another change this year is the Carolina Beach Inshore Challenge is going back to a one-day format. While many liked last year’s two-day format, more of our anglers told us that they just weren’t able to negotiate an entire weekend off to dedicate for tournament fishing (due to kids, spouses, travel, sports, etc.). Since our goal each year is to get as many boats as possible into each event (and since the entry numbers were down for last year’s two-day event), it’s back to the standard and popular one day of fishing.

Participants will continue this year to accumulate points for both species under their team names over the course of the five events to make up the Angler’s Marine/Ranger Boats Inshore Trail standings. As we recognize it may be difficult for anglers and teams to make it out to all five tournaments, the combined points (one per pound) from a team’s heaviest three fish will make up the final Trail leaderboard for the Inshore Trail Champions in both categories. With no minimum number of events to fish, one spectacular catch could put your crew on the final leaderboard, but the odds of a higher finish certainly go up with each event you fish.

Once again there’s no separate entry fee for the Inshore Trail, as teams are automatically entered in the season-long competition by participating in any of the five competing events, and with each tournament offering its own solid bounty of cash and prizes, the Inshore Trail offers the lucky anglers who finish on top even more cash and prizes to take home.

We pride ourselves on putting on an “event,” as opposed to just a tournament—so anglers can expect food, beverages, raffles, camaraderie, and more surrounding the Registration and Awards Ceremonies of each of the tournaments.

Of course, the backbone of any tournament is the competition, and to that end, we’ll be offering numerous ways to make the leaderboard and take home cash and prizes from any of the events (including junior, lady, and senior angler prizes), and our popular TWTs (Tournaments Within a Tournament) will be offered (voluntarily) at each event for those wishing to gamble a little more in order to further fatten the potential prize checks.

Stay tuned to the newspaper and to www.fishermanspost.com for more information on the 2017 Angler’s Marine/Ranger Boats Inshore Trail, presented by Fisherman’s Post, and we look forward to seeing new and old faces alike at the registration tables!