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Division: 3 Charleston, SC 21st ANNUAL FISHING FOR MIRACLES KMT August 7-9, 2014

Solid Surface Claims Top SKA Spot at Fishing for Miracles

By Sam White

Charleston, SC — The Southern Kingfish Association sanctions a wide variety of king mackerel tournaments throughout the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, but among the finest are those which have a strong dedication to supporting worthy charitable organizations. Now in its 21st year, the Fishing for Miracles tournament in South Carolina fits that description perfectly, not only attracting participants from across the Palmetto State but funding some vitally important projects along the way (see sidebar). Nearly $60,000 in prize money was up for grabs over the two day event and with a good weather forecast, the gathered teams were anxious to hit the water. 

And it didn’t take long for some very respectable kingfish to find their way to the scales at Ripley Light Yacht Club. By the time the weigh in closed for the first day of the two-day tournament, it would be Alan Richey’s Knot Guilty team leading the way. Fishing on a Yamaha-powered Contender, the team bagged a 35.24-pound kingfish about 35 miles offshore. “We had two good fish on that both hit the downriggers at the same time,” Richey reported. “We had set them about twenty-four feet down in 70 feet of water with pogies, and they just got nailed.” Thirteen year-old Austin Flanders grabbed one rod while Alan’s son Miller took control of the second half of the double. Unfortunately the hooks pulled on Miller’s fish but Austin remained tight throughout the 25-minute battle before his father Scott Flanders was able to sink a gaff into the fish. “It was a beautiful day on the water,” Alan said later. “It was really pretty out there. We caught lots of fish—Ajs, cobia and kings.” The Knot Guilty team has been a strong one in Division Three for many years, having won the division twice in the past. “We took a few years off but we knocked the dust off the team and are glad to be back fishing with the SKA again,” Richey said. 

But as with any two-day tournament, there will be good fish located on the second half of the event too. First to the scale would be John Kicklighter’s Kickback, who would scale a 43.03-pounder caught by his son, 14 year-old Ben Kicklighter. The family team also consisted of Ben’s older brother Brad, who gaffed the big king. Unfortunately they were not SKA members but we look forward to welcoming them aboard soon. Second place also fell to non-members on the Fish Hunter. Melvin Knight’s team landed a 42.11-pound kingfish and also took home the two-fish aggregate weight award for the tournament. 

Andy Nettles has been fishing SKA tournaments for many years—the Solid Surface is a familiar name at the top of any leaderboard. They prefished several spots, running nearly 150 miles in their prospecting but the efforts paid off the second day of the tournament. “We hit a couple spots and ended up working offshore of Y-73 where there were some other boats,” he said. “We moved outside the pack and had a nice doubleheader bite on a mullet way back and a single pogy closer to the boat.” But as with the case with many doubles, the first fish ended up pulling the hooks. The second half stayed tight though as 12 year-old EJ Nettles worked the fish closer to the boat after a long reel-smoking first run. “We had most of the line back on the reel when I saw the rod tip jerk,” Nettles reported. “I thought, ‘Well, there went the first set of hooks,’ and then we got a look at the fish as it circled below us. We could see that it was hooked in the soft tissue under the bottom of the mouth and gills so we weren’t too excited about that—it’s easy to pull the hooks on a fish like that.” EJ continued to work the fish masterfully with a light touch on the reel, giving line as needed and gaining it back when the fish would circle and eventually it came ever closer to the Solid Surface, a Mercury-powered 36-foot Hunley. “I knew we had to make something happen,” Nettles said, “because we had seen a big tiger shark in another area and figured that something bad was probably going to happen if we didn’t. So I stuck our 12-foot gaff about six or eight feet in the water and somehow managed to gaff that fish and bring it aboard. Everything really came together, between our anglers and the rest of the team so we’re really happy that it worked out for us.” Their kingfish ended up weighing 37.11 pounds and was good enough for third place behind that pair of 40-pounders in first and second. Nettles also commented that the Fishing for Miracles event itself was first class all the way, from the great food every night to the overall smooth operation of the tournament. 

Non-members finished in several other places in the tournament but congratulations are in order for Jason Solano and the Total Chaos/Team Garmin boat for their eighth place finish. The team, fishing a Yamaha-powered Yellowfin, weighed a 32.41-pound king mackerel to give them a big boost in the division standings. Rounding out the top ten was Mo Mangan’s Mangler. The Mangler, a Yamaha-powered Contender, decked a 31.91-pounder. Fishing with Mo was Tom Mangan, Jason Hehr and Steve Schmidt. 

As the division rounds the halfway point in their season it’s clear that the competition is going to be tougher than ever in South Carolina. Robert Olsen’s Knot@Work leads with two fish and 65.78 pounds but Alan Richey’s Knot Guilty team is coming on strong thanks to their finish here, which boosted them to 61.34 points. Low Country Native, Tailwalker and Sea Scaper round out the top five in the standings but there are still two great tournaments left to go. This one’s coming down to the wire so stay tuned for some great competitive tournament fishing in Division Three.

21st Annual Fishing for Miracles KMT

Open Class

43.031. Kickback
42.112. Fish Hunter
37.113. SOLID SURFACE
Hunley / Mercury
Andy Nettles
Ben Albrecht
Drew Nettles
EJ Nettles
Bryce Bell
35.974. Salt Shaker Grande
35.655. Reef Jerky
35.246. KNOT GUILTY
Contender / Yamaha
Alan Richey
Mike Atkins
Scott Flanders
Austin Flanders
Miller Richey
32.597. Mondo
32.418. TOTAL CHAOS/GARMIN
Yellowfin / Yamaha
Jason Solano
Morgan Nelson
John King
32.159. Double Dzz
31.9110. MANGLER
Contender / Yamaha
Moe Mangan
Tom Mangan
Jason Hehr
Steve Schmidt
Top Lady Anglers
35.971. Ericka Cone
Salt Shaker Grande

Top Junior Angler
43.03Ben Kicklighter
Kickback





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