Fishing the Fifty
My Quest to Fish All 50 States
First in flight, 49th on my state quest. North Carolina is an easy drive from my house, so I saved it for second-to-last to ensure that I had some low-hanging fruit at the end of my quest to offset the time and money involved in doing Alaska and Hawaii. Home to the world record red drum (94 pounds, 2 ounces) and great trout fishing in its western mountains, North Carolina has many fishing opportunities. But I wanted to complete the continental United States with a bang, so I chose to target an apex predator so (in)famous that it inspires movies and gets its own week on television: the shark.
I chose Mike White (offshoreaccountcharters.com) because of his ability to catch quality fish consistently. We left Wrightsville Beach on a windy, summer morning and headed into the rough seas to catch bait on light tackle, which I always enjoy. I caught quite a few Spanish mackerel before we began shark fishing. Mike knew a great spot and, within minutes of anchoring, I had my first North Carolina sport fish, a hammerhead shark with a fork length of 42 inches and a total length of 54 inches, estimated to be 28 pounds. Within minutes, I had my next North Carolina shark, a bigger hammerhead with a fork length of 51 inches and a total length of 66 inches, estimated to be 52 pounds. Both hammerheads fought as hard as I hoped they would, with the bigger one taking many runs and even jumping out of the water. Unfortunately, the bite slowed after that and the two other non-vomiting members of my six-person group caught one sandbar shark each. All of the sharks were released to get bigger and fight another day.
At the dock, I discovered that most boats that had headed offshore initially had to come inshore because of the weather. I also noticed that a head boat with several dozen people on it had only caught a few small fish, so I was very happy to have had an experienced guide like Mike on what was clearly a tough day on the water.
Finishing the continental U.S. with the man whose bachelor party marked the start of my fishing quest in April 2007
Welcome to North Carolina
First glimpse of my first North Carolina fish
My first North Carolina fish, a hammerhead shark (3.5-foot fork length, 4.5-foot total length, 28 pounds)
My second hammerhead (4.25-foot fork length, 5.5-foot total length, 52 pounds)
My second hammerhead jumping out of the water
Safely released to fight another day
Rough day on the Atlantic