Above, left: Hutaff’s maritime forest overlooks Elmore’s Inlet. Top: Mike Merritt and Jack Talbert pose with their red drum
and bluefish caught at Hutaff Island circa 1970. Bottom, left to right: Bill Gulledge won the channel bass (red drum) category
in the 1948 New Hanover Fishing Club rodeo. George B. Dunn was the out-of-town winner.
COURTESY OF DONNA STARLING
COURTESY OF KIT TAYLOR
COURTESY OF KIT TAYLOR Treacherous currents and rip tides challenged even
veteran fishermen and kept most away. The result was a
relatively peaceful, undisturbed red drum fishery — a top
secret location frequented by only a few.
One of those few was Mike Merritt, Harbor Island
native, co-founder of Atlantic Marine at Wrightsville
Beach, and for many years an avid red drum fisherman.
Merritt immersed himself in the sport, researched
tactics, and talked to veteran drum experts while
constantly learning about tackle and techniques.
Merritt and his fishing friends had a traditional meet-ing
with the big drum each year.