The Ocean Isle Inshore Challenge is the first of five red drum boat tournaments that Fisherman’s Post hosts every year, and this year’s event, held over the weekend of May 21-22, once again produced several quality fish. The structure of the event was modified from years past, basing the winners in 2021 on the single heaviest red drum. The tournament also offered Red Drum TWTs (single heaviest and two-fish aggregate), a Speckled Trout TWT, and a “Trash Fish” TWT (oyster toad or lizardfish).
Coming in first place was Team Scales, comprised of Will Callihan and Jordan Carter of Whiteville, NC, with a 7.84 lb. red drum weighed in alive.
They had found bait easy enough on Friday afternoon when pre-fishing, but then they struggled Saturday morning to put anything in the livewell. After a little over an hour, they found their menhaden and headed to a place near Bonaparte Creek where they had located fish the day before.
The bite was slow at first, but then at 10:30-ish it turned on, right before they were about to give up on the spot. The team brought in three big reds in a 30-minute span, two measuring just over 27.5”, but one that measured out at 26.75”, the tournament winner and the top fish in the Single Big Red Drum TWT.
All three red drum, as well as the rest of their reds all day long, came from live menhaden on Carolina rigs.
They pulled in a couple more reds in the ICW, including their second red drum that weighed in at 5.39 lbs., and then they switched over to trout fishing to try and earn a piece of the Trout TWT prize money. They only found undersized trout, though, so they headed to the scales at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center.
Normally Callihan and Carter get to fish the area often, but this year the late May weekend was the first time they had been on the water. Their plan worked—fish places where they had historically caught good fish.
Team Scales also entered the 2021 Inshore Tournament Trail, a season-long competition based around the five standalone red drum events that Fisherman’s Post hosts. Their single heaviest redfish earned them an automatic invitation to the Inshore Trail Championship, and their two red drum currently have them sitting in second place in the regular season Trail competition at 13.23 lbs., just 5 ounces behind Lunar Low who is currently leading.
Finishing in second place in the Ocean Isle Inshore Challenge was Team Davis Fence, made up of Matt Davis and Sam Daughtry, both of Wilmington. Their runner-up fish weighed in at 7.58 lbs., which also took second place in the Single Big Red Drum TWT, and then they put a 6.53 lb. red drum on the scales, too, that brought them the top spot in the Two Red Drum TWT (14.11 lbs.).
Davis Fence caught their pogies early on Saturday morning, and they were on their spot by 6:05 am, some docks and oyster bars behind Topsail. It then only took two minutes or so before they had their first red drum hookup, and the action stayed red hot until they left.
They kept catching fish, with just about every red drum measuring 25”. They lost a couple of big fish to break-offs, but eventually they culled out the two fish they ended up weighing in.
The duo pulled lines around 11:00, thinking they would hit one more dock before making the trek to Ocean Isle, but the dock had too much boat traffic so they started what would end up being a 2.5 hour boat ride to Ocean Isle.
The Single Big Trout TWT was won by Team Dare He Is weighing in a 4.18 lb. speck, and the heaviest “Trash Fish” was Flounder Fix’s 1.94 lb. oyster toad.
For a more complete leaderboard and information on the next Inshore Challenge event happening June 25-26 out of Topsail, as well as the season long Inshore Tournament Trail, please visit www.FishermansPost.com.