This article originally appeared on the Fisherman's Post March 11, 2010

After being knocked out of first place a few short days after he took the lead, Carteret County’s Tom Holland came back big, weighing in an 8.32 lb. gator trout that held the top spot on the board for the next month and earned him first place in the second annual Chasin’ Tails Outdoors Speckled Trout Challenge.

Holland’s big fish bit on December 15, giving him six weeks of waiting to see if his fish would remain atop the standings until the four-month-long tournament ended January 31.

Tom Holland, of Carteret County, holds the 8.32 lb. winning fish in the second annual Chasin' Tails Outdoors Speckled Trout Challenge. The gator trout fell for a live
shrimp near the Haystacks.

Danny Rimmer, of Beaufort, with the 7.62 lb. second place speck in the Chasin' Tails Outdoors Trout Challenge. His fish inhaled a live bait on a drop-shot rig in a creekmouth
off the Newport River.

“You just never know,” Holland said after receiving his $1,110 winnings. “It’s a long time till the end of January, and you wonder whether it’s going to hold up. You just have to kind of sweat it out until the thing is over.”

After landing a fish over 7 lbs. in early December, Holland and partner Carl Griffin returned to the spot, a creek near the Haystacks, on the 15th, and they didn’t have to wait long for action. Free-lining live shrimp, the pair had caught around four fish when the gator struck.

“We’d caught some reds there before,” Holland explained, “and I thought it was a big red, but Carl said ‘it doesn’t have to be’.”

Griffin was proven correct as the battle drew to a close and the fish surfaced near the boat.

“It made three or four runs,” Holland continued. “When I got her beside the boat and saw her, I said ‘oh my goodness’.”

Griffin netted the sow trout quickly, and surprised Holland with his reaction.

“Carl doesn’t get excited too much,” the winning angler reported, “but he got excited on that one.”

After putting the big speck in the livewell, the anglers continued to fish for a short time, but curiosity about the size of their big speck soon took over.

“We fished maybe another half-hour,” Holland said, “then thought about it and decided to head to Matt’s and weigh her in.”

Once the scales settled on 8.32 lbs., the anglers tried to revive and release their prize trout.

“We tried to revive her in the shrimp tank at Chasin’ Tails,” Holland explained. “We tried that for a long time and eventually had her swimming good in the tank, but she didn’t make it in the end.”

Fortunately for Holland, no one weighed in a fish that came close to dethroning his trout on the leader board, and he took home the top prize.

“I’d just like to thank Matt, his mom and dad, and everybody at Chasin’ Tails for putting this thing on,” said Holland.

Posting a 7.62 lb. trout, Beaufort’s Danny Rimmer captured second place and $555 in the tournament.

He hooked his fish at the beginning of December while fishing off the Newport River with Jamie Lawrence.

“We were fishing with shad, mullet, and pinfish,” Rimmer said, “and to be honest, I’m not sure which I caught my fish on.”

Fishing the live baits on drop-shot rigs, Rimmer and Lawrence had pulled several specks out of a creek mouth off the Newport when the big one struck.

“That fish had a deformed tail,” Rimmer explained, “more like half a tail, but you couldn’t tell it didn’t have a whole tail from the fight. She was taking drag pretty good.”

A 7.14 lb. speck secured third place, $185, and a new fishing rod for Jimmy Phillips.

He hooked his big speck while fishing the Pamlico River with Hugh Mills.

Unlike the other fish on the leader board, Phillips hooked his on an artificial. The seven-pounder fell for an 808 MirrOlure.

“I saw that fish swirl when it bit,” Phillips reported. “He put up a good fight. Yeah, we got a little bit excited at that fish.”