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CTO Summer Camps – The Year of the Red Drum
Last year was an impressive fishing year at the Cross Trail Outfitters (CTO) North Carolina Camp. The boys at the camp tend to catch a decent variety of fish, including: Spotted Sea Trout, Flounder, Sheep Head, an occasional Cobia, Mahi, Tuna and Marlin. Last year was different. It was the year of the red drum.
The boys were catching slot-sized Red Drum daily. On the next to the last day of camp I told the boys we were each going to keep one fish for our fish fry that night and we wanted drum. As luck would have it, that morning we could not find a single drum. Since this is a sight cast fishery, if you do not see them you do not catch them. We relocated to the neighbor’s pier and tied off in an area where we often catch sheep head and flounder.
As the boys were changing their rigs, I let mine hang over the boat’s side to give the boys more room. Immediately my rod jumped and nearly flew overboard. Rushing to my feet to catch it I let a shout escape, commanding the boy’s immediate attention. After a back and forth battle of stout tugging, he appeared: a 26 inch golden spot tailed beauty with lit up blue fins. As the boys cheered my catch we noticed their rods, one by one, start to bow. This amazing fish brought thousands of his good friends with him. In the greatest moment of serendipity, we had stumbled onto a half-acre of slot-sized red drum.
We caught and released over 300 fish that day with 12 boys and 6 adults. It was truly my best fishing day ever. God sent us a blessing and we ate well that night. The talk around the campfire that night was alit with speculation on how many fish we were going to catch the next day. The boys had me so pumped up that, even after a hard day on the water, I could hardly sleep.
The sunrise that greets the island at the Oregon Inlet is nearly impossible to sleep through. As the sun met the horizon, I woke up and sprung to me feet. With more anticipation than a kid at Christmas, I started shouting for the boys to get up so we could go fishing. I made a pot of coffee and, as time passed, no one joined me. I hollered again and 10 minutes later, still no boys in sight. I went upstairs and, despite my trying, I could not get a single one of those boys out of bed. A full day of adrenaline pumping excitement was more than they could bear. I think the fish won. So the camp cook and I left the boys in bed and we slipped over to the dock and caught a few fish for them.
~ Mike Johnson, National Director, CTO
Cross Trail Outfitters was founded in 2005 with a singular goal: to build relationships through discipleship and mentoring by connecting to nature. Mike Johnson, National Director of the North Carolina camp, embraced the CTO mission in 2009 to instigate a change in the American family. If you would like more information about CTO’s mission and its camp opportunities, please visit http://teamcto.org. Sportsman Boats is a proud supporter of CTO. For more information about Sportsman Boats, please visit http://sportsmanboatsmfg.com.