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Tournament Reports – Johnnie Mercer’s Pier Dogfish Tournament

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Over 170 anglers crowded Johnnie Mercer’s Pier in Wrightsville Beach, NC, to participate in the 15th annual Dogfish Tournament that took place on Saturday, January 25. The single day event’s allotted fishing time stretched from 1:00-8:00 pm, giving anglers both daylight and dusk to pursue a winning dogfish.

Tournament rules allowed participants to bring and enter multiple rods, but only one rod could be in use at a time. The maximum allowed rod length was ten feet, and it cost $5 per angler to enter, which went into an overall pot paid out to first, second, and third place at a 50/30/20 ratio.

The three top placers in this year’s tournament were Ron Matthieu who finished in first with his 7.6 lb. catch, Alessandro Sanchez who took home second for his 7.4 pounder, and Kristal Hatley, the first female to place on the leaderboard in all fifteen years of tournament history, who came in third with her 7.3 lb. fish.

Matthieu, from York, SC, had only one very lucky catch all day. Using bits of spanish caught earlier in the season as bait, he caught his winning dogfish on the north corner of the pier. He reeled in his catch around 6:45 pm, and it was the second fish caught in the tournament.

Hatley, a second time tournament angler, found similar fortune using cut mullet on her 6’ Penn jigging rod and Daiwa BG 8000 reel equipped with 80 lb. monofilament and a 6 oz. pyramid sinker. A heavy setup for pier fishing, but she prefers to play it safe with her tackle. Her trophy dogfish was the first one caught during the tournament, and it, too, was her only catch of the day.

Third place winner Kristal Hatley, the first female to make the leaderboard in all 15 years of the tournament’s history, and the 7.3 lb. dogfish she hooked off the north end of the pier.

The fight was nothing too intense, but her line tangled with about six others’ while maneuvering the fish up. Grayson Lanier assisted by manning the drop net, and Joey Jacobs helped to weigh in her leaderboard catch.

Hatley was joined by her husband Josh Hatley who placed second in the Dogfish Tournament two years ago.

There were 11 anglers that weighed in dogfish, totaling 61 lbs. 11 oz. overall.

This year’s Johnnie Mercer’s Pier Dogfish Tournament drew over 170 anglers in January where participants fished for the largest dogfish.

This tournament was a huge success thanks to Matt & Courtney Johnson, Al & Mary Baird, and Johnnie Mercer’s Pier. The event also thanks Mike Cowan, from Think Fish Rods and Repairs, for donating a rod for the raffle.

For more information on this tournament and to stay tuned for future events, follow the Johnnie Mercer’s Pier Fishing Friends Facebook page or visit their website at