Capt. Noah Lynk of Harkers Island spent a special birthday on the water this past Sunday, Nov. 23, taking off to go fun-fishing for a few hours and winding up with the best present of all, a speckled trout that weighed 9 pounds.

Lynk, who runs Noah’s Ark Charters, was worried that a windy, rainy forecast, but an approaching front stalled, giving him a small window to get on the water.

Lynk and his son, Ethan, got on the water early and found a slick ocean and a light breeze from the northeast.

“I smiled when we turned the corner at the point of the hook and I could only see one boat,” said Lynk, who said trout and under-slot and lower-slot red drum were biting when they started fishing along the Cape Lookout rock jetty, casting Paul Brown Soft-Dine XLs and 3-inch Salty Bay shrimp in opening night color.

“The fish weren’t aggressive and creeping the bait along the bottom and occasionally twitching the lure lightly was the only retrieve that was drawing strikes,” Lynk said. “If you speeded up any at all or twitched the lure so it moved quickly, they weren’t interested.”        

Lynk then moved to a slough that runs along the west beach from the jetty to the cape.

“We were anchored just offshore of the slough, and I made a cast down and across it,” Lynk said. “I was fishing a Soft-Dine XL in the Texas Chicken color and suddenly, it was slammed. This was a much more-serious strike than anything so far.

“The fish took off headed offshore and took a lot of line before it turned and circled around the boat, Lynk said. “There wasn’t any doubt this was a nice fish, but it stayed down, and we didn’t see it. It wasn’t running like a drum, but it wasn’t acting like a trout, either. Usually trout will come to the surface and shake their head, but this one didn’t. I was wondering what it might be.”

It took Lynk more than 5 minutes to tire the fish and get it within range of the net and during that time, it made several strong runs and circled the boat twice. At one point as it passed the boat, the fish was shallow, and Lynk got a good look at it, realized it was bigger than any trout he’d ever caught, and he could see it had the lure in its mouth and wasn’t foul hooked.

As Lynk cautiously eased the trout toward the boat, his son extended the net to full length, and when the big trout was in range, he slid the net under it like a pro and lifted it into the boat.

“Man, I was happy,” Lynk said. “Catching a big trout like that was a great birthday present, especially on a day my son could be with me and net it. I had given up on fishing when I went to bed the night before, and then the front slowed allowed us a few hours to go.”

Lynk’s trout weighed 9 pounds even on the certified scales at Chadwick’s Tackle in Straits. The trout was 28 inches long and 15 ¾ inches in girth. Lynk said he kept the measurements and will probably have a mount made. 

Lynk was fishing the Soft-Dine XL on a Star Plasma rod rated 6 to 14 pounds. He said the reel was a prototype he was field-testing, spooled with 12-ound Fins WindTamer braid, with a 24-inch leader of 12-pound Calcutta fluorocarbon.