Flounder tourney at Shallotte Point

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By Sarah Sue Ingram, Beacon Correspondent

SHALLOTTE POINT—Last minute meant first place.

But not without all the hurrying hassle and frantic worry of meeting deadline.

When Larry Lefler caught his whopping 10.29-pound flounder, he knew it had a great chance of winning the 31st annual Sudan Daredevils Flounder Tournament.

But it was 3:30 Saturday afternoon, the fishing tournament ended at 5 p.m., and it was quite a haul by boat from the Lockwood Folly River to the official weigh-in at what used to be Tripp’s Marina just past the Shallotte River.

“We started cutting lines and everything else so we could get head-on to the weigh-in!” Lefler recalled Saturday night after the banquet.

He made it. It was the first time the Concord resident won the flounder tournament here although he finished runner-up two years in a row and last year caught the fourth-biggest fish. Lefler and his dad started fishing for flounder off the South Brunswick Islands in 1980.

His 10.29-pound flounder weighed three pounds more than the 7.21-pound flounder that won last year’s tournament.

“I thought I had a stick,” Lefler said. “But when he decided to take off, he let us know he was a fish. We were shocked.”

Lefler won $1,500 for landing the biggest fish and another $1,050 for taking first place in the calcutta for a weekend total of $2,550.

He had paid an entry, additional-prize and calcutta fee of $125 and “you figure $200 for your gas,” Lefler said as he held the two checks totaling more than two grand.

“I’m splitting it three ways,” Lefler said, referring to his brother Tracy, their sister Tammy and himself.

Also fishing in his 22-foot Carolina Skiff named “A-Salt Weapon” was Larry’s nephew Travis. The 9-year-old was another money winner.

“Travis caught a 5.13-pound flounder first thing this morning about 8 o’clock,” Larry said. “It was a good day.”

Travis Lefler won $50 for taking the child prize for biggest fish Saturday.

Fishermen in 90 boats competed in this year’s flounder tournament, compared to 94 boats last year. The largest number of boats ever entered was 137, said Mike Potts, awards banquet master of ceremonies.

Potts thanked Tripp family members for letting the anglers weigh in fish at their marina for the tournament’s 31 years and also the Shallotte Point Volunteer Fire Department for offering the site for the flounder supper and awards banquet.

“We served 848 plates,” said Ricky Buffkin, captain of the Sudan Daredevils of the South Brunswick Islands Shrine Club.

Buffkin was one of the electric-knife wielders who cleaned 450 pounds of flounder for those supper plates.

Potts said tournament competitors turned in 123 flounder Friday totaling 295 pounds. He was so busy assessing individual winners that hadn’t calculated Saturday’s total fish and weight figures by Saturday night.

The Pyatte family of Stone Chimney Road also had two winners in the flounder tournament. Cody Pyatte won for the third-largest fish (an impressive 8.28 pounds), while daughter Carly won a special weight category (1.77 pounds).

Carly, 18, and her twin sister, Casey, also graduated from West Brunswick High School Saturday morning, family members said about the stellar weekend.

Some tournament fishermen turned in 10 flounder and didn’t win anything.

And then there was Derek Cox.

Asked how many fish he caught during the whole weekend, he grinned and said, “Two.”

“I caught two and won a prize for each one,” he said. “I’m proud of winning sixth place.”

The Leland resident also won a special weight category. Certain weights are selected before the tournament starts, and anyone catching a fish that exact weight wins a prize. These prizes are given in memory of Ronnie Tripp.

Cox won the 2.75-pound special weight prize. His two winnings totaled $325.

Whereas Cox was fishing with mud minnows, Lefler was using menhaden as bait.

Cox looked at Lefler’s winning fish and said, “That’s a hog, son. That’s what you call a doormat.”

Of the 90 boats entered, seven boats had fishermen kin to the Lefler family.

Relative John A. Starnes of Albemarle said the extended family had at least 30 fishermen in the tournament. He competed here for the 15th year in a row, and he said his wife, Nita, has never missed a tournament.

Their son Jake won the child prize for biggest fish Friday with a 3.11-pounder.

“It was a tough two days of fishing,” John said. “The fish wouldn’t cooperate, and the bait wanted to die.”

But he was nearby in his boat Saturday when he watched Larry hook the biggest fish of the tournament.

“Larry thought he was hung,” John said. “It was the last hour of (fishing) the tournament.”

Jake, now 10, started fishing when he was 1 year old and caught a 6.15-pound flounder when he was 4, said his grandfather John W. Starnes.

They were fishing on the boat “Beats Workin’.”

Other winning boats included Dennis Watson’s “Finfever,” “Shane Britt’s “Britts Bucktails,” Glen Byrd’s “Bubblehead” and Cox’s “Sanddollar.”

Asked how he planned to spend his winnings, Lefler grinned and said, “My wife (Jennifer) is probably gonna spend it.”


 Sarah Sue Ingram, a member of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame board of directors, is a sports correspondent for the Beacon. 


List of prize winners in 2014 Sudan Daredevils Flounder Tournament

First place largest fish: 10.29 pounds. Larry Lefler (Concord).

Second-largest fish: 8.5 pounds. Dennis Watson (Leland).

Third prize 5-fish total weight: 20.74 pounds. Shane Britt (Supply).

Fourth prize third-largest fish: 8.28 pounds. Cody Pyatte (Supply).

Fifth prize fourth-largest fish: 7.58 pounds. Glenn Byrd (Supply).

Sixth prize fifth-largest fish: 5.57 pounds. Derek Cox (Leland).

 Special categories

Top lady angler: 5.32 pounds. Jackie Durham.

Special weight: 1.77 pounds. Carly Pyatte (Supply).

Special weight: 1.85 pounds. Hamilton Ward (Supply).

Special weight: 2.75 pounds. Derek Cox. (Leland).

Top senior angler: 5.32 pounds Tim Lawson (Lumberton).

Child prize Saturday: 5.13 pounds. Travis Lefler. (Concord).

Child prize Friday: 3.11 pounds. Jake Starnes (Albemarle).


Sarah Sue Ingram, a member of the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame board of directors, is a sports correspondent for the Beacon.