John Petrigac is paid to ask; the answer is always fishing

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John Petrigac shows off an honest 30 inch speckled trout caught at “Location X”. Contributing photo.

If you’re an angler, you’ve most likely been approached at some point in your life by someone with a notepad in the parking lot of a boat launch, asking about your fishing day. What were you fishing? How long did you stay out? Did you catch anything?

This person is doing what’s called a trap survey for the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. The data they collect on recreational fishing data includes effort, catch and participation. This is important in determining the pressure placed on our fish populations by recreational anglers.

If you were interrogated in Dare County, chances are you were interrogated by a handsome young man named John Petrigac. He has lived and worked on the Outer Banks for five years now.

Along with his girlfriend, Candace Burns, Petrigac gets out on the water as much as he can. And as evidenced by the 30-inch speckled trout he caught last summer, it seems he has some things figured out.

Petrigac grew up in Pittsburgh fishing with his grandfather, also named John. “My grandfather is the reason I started fishing. When I was about 5, he started taking me to a local lake to fish for bass and crappie.

Of course, this turned into bigger and longer excursions.

“As we got older, we would take trips to our family camp in West Virginia where I spent all my time on a boat with him fishing for smallmouth bass,” Petrigac said.

Petrigac’s grandfather passed away a few years ago, but he still impacts young John’s day-to-day life. These idyllic settings would lead to even greater adventures.

“I first got a taste of saltwater fishing when we took a family vacation to Ocean Isle Beach, NC and rented an inshore charter that took us catching rockfish and trout .” Memories of that trip were indelibly etched in his brain: “I’ll never forget the first rockfish I hooked up to,” Petrigac said.

Candace Burns, left, and John Petrigac spend time together on the water.  Contributing photo.
Candace Burns, left, and John Petrigac spend time together on the water. Contributing photo.

This first red became a turning point for Petrigac. Like many other people, the saltwater fishing bug got under his skin.

“After that, I set myself the goal of moving to the coast. It took me a few years, but I finally moved to Myrtle Beach,” he said.

Petrigac attended Coastal Carolina University where he studied marine science and eventually earned his master’s degree.

“While I was in school, whenever I wasn’t studying or working, I was fishing,” he said.

He worked at a fishing tackle store in Myrtle Beach and got all the information and knowledge he could.

“For a few summers, I soaked up the locals as much as possible,” he said.

This knowledge paid off when John first moved to the Outer Banks. He got his job at the division and decided, like in college, that if he wasn’t working, he’d be fishing.

“Since moving to the Outer Banks, I’ve been hooked on kayak fishing in my Ascend 12t sit-on-top,” he said.

You will often find it hooking up in the backwaters where it continues to catch speckled trout and red drum.

“I like to spend the early mornings out on the grassy plains hunting trout and drum, but sometimes I’ll switch it up and fish the structure for sheep’s head,” he said.

Like most of us, he has preferences in how he likes to fish, but he’s willing to change if necessary.

“I like to cast surface water as much as possible, but obviously that’s not always what the fish want, so I’m not afraid to cast a popping plug or a weedless jig on the seagrass beds to get me bitten,” he said.

Petrigac also occasionally has the opportunity to go out into the ocean. “When asked, I won’t hesitate to hop on a friend’s boat to go bottom bass fishing or look for cobia,” he said, adding that the fall will see him fishing in surf. “In the fall, I focus on surfing, for trout and redfish.”

This is where you will most often find John Petrigac.  Contributing photo.
This is where you will most often find John Petrigac. Contributing photo.

Because Petrigac fishes mostly from a small boat and covers the water with a variety of species, he has to be ready for anything.

“I think the most important thing for a successful day on the water comes down to two things: having a game plan and knowing how and when to adjust your game plan when it’s not working out,” he said. declared.

You never know what each day will bring and not being able to go 30 mph to cover different areas forces an angler to lock down their presentation and find out what’s really going on.

“The key to catching fish regularly is paying attention to the weather and environmental conditions and how it affects the fish, as well as having knowledge about the fish you are targeting,” he said.

If you’re lucky, in a few years you might be lucky enough to fish with Petrigac. He thinks he will eventually become a charter captain.

“What good is all this fishing knowledge I’m acquiring, if I don’t pass it on somehow?” he explained.

Petrigac said he will most likely get a bay boat so he can really get out there and cover the water and learn more about all of Pamlico Sound. He is looking forward to getting married and having children in the future in order to pass on his love of fishing to them. Staying in North Carolina and the Outer Banks is pretty much where it sees itself.

“No reason to leave from what I see,” he said.

Keep an eye out for Petrigac if you see anyone doing trap surveys in Dare County. He’s a good man to know.

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