Plagued by extremely high water temperatures in his normal fishery near Topsail Island, Wayne Crisco of Last Resort Charters made a faithful decision on Thursday to head north to Sneads Ferry in search of cooler water and big flounder. The end result was a 10.07-pound flounder that his long-time client, Ron Ripz of Surf City, not only caught, but also released.

“It’s not always easy this time of year inshore,” said Crisco (910-465-0611). “Until today, we’ve had minimal rainfall, and the water temperature around Topsail has been spiking between 89 and 91 degrees, which plays a big role in the bite.”

Crisco, who often fishes nearshore artificial reefs for flounder during the summer, had a hunch that he could also find some fat flounder if he could find deeper, cooler water inshore. 

“I know a couple of ledges near Sneads Ferry that are almost 30 feet deep,” he said.  “We focused on those areas until I found the water temperature that I liked … between 85 to 86 degrees.”

“I always preach the importance of the tide window,” said Crisco, “and we hit this spot just right. It was about an hour before the tide change, the latter part of high tide, before it went slack.” 

After anchoring up and sliding some keepers over the rails, Ripz informed his guide, “I just had a good bite.”  Crisco encouraged Ripz to give the fish a little time to swallow the 4-inch mullet minnow on his Carolina rig, which was holding bottom with a 1-ounce egg sinker.  “When he set the hook, I could tell it was a good fish,” said Crisco.

“The fish popped it right under the motor, almost straight down like vertical jigging,” said Crisco. “He brought her up nice and easy, and I slid the net under her, right before a storm ran us off. We only fished about 10 more minutes and had to put the boat in the wind.”

While most keeper flounder are only released into hot grease, this story ended a little differently. 

“I was glad I was with long-time clients,” Crisco said. “They had other flounder to keep, and they know how I feel about big flounder. She was a little sluggish when I let her go, but okay. I’d like to see a little kid or someone catch it in another year or two. That fish is probably 11 or 12 years old.”

The fish, which measured 27 ¾ inches, was weighed and released at One Stop Bait and Tackle in Surf City.