Rennie Clark piloted his boat out of North Carolina’s Masonboro Inlet, nosing the bow through the rolling waves. Clouds in the overcast sky threatened rain, but the wind was calmly whispering out of the southwest, which made the seas nearly flat.

“If we can catch a break with the weather, we can also catch some nice fish on the reefs and ledges,” he said. “The flounder and gray trout have been biting.”

Clark, 42, who operates Tournament Trail Charters, has been guiding for a number of different species between Topsail Beach, N.C., and Southport, N.C., over the past 10 years, while fishing in a dozen redfish tournaments on several trails every year.

“During the summer, the fish really congregate on the nearshore structure just off the beaches,” he said. “The artificial reefs fill up with flounder and gray trout and they can fill up with anglers, too. The best bet is fishing during the week when the waters are not as crowded. The other thing you can do is find the little rocks and lesser-known wrecks away from the larger artificial-reef structure marked on maps. You can have those places all to yourself.”

For whatever reason, when Clark reached the destination he had plotted in his GPS unit, no other boats were in the area.

Before leaving the Intracoastal Waterway, Clark uses a cast net to fill his livewell with finger mullet. He may hit Masonboro Inlet’s rock jetties or sandbars around Carolina Beach Inlet with a few casts for red drum using Carolina rigs baited with mullet. Then, he heads out to fish the ledges and reefs.

It didn’t take Clark long to find the right spot. Hovering over the baitfish and hard