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Division: 10 Key West, FL 18th Annual Stock Island Marina Village KMT Jan. 24-26, 2014

Unreel Scales a 70.68 to Earn the Top Spot in the Stock Island Marina Village KMT!

By Jack Holmes
Managing Partner

Key West, Florida—If you showed up in Key West for Lee Murray’s 18th annual event, you know what I’m talking about when I say that this event ranks certainly in the top five in the 24-year history of the SKA. You needed a heavy bag if you were going to earn accolades in this event.

The two-day event, sponsored and hosted by the new Stock Island Marina Village, was certainly the perfect backdrop for such a special event.

On day one, Saturday, the 60-boat fleet was checked out at 6:45am from the Stock Island Marina Village’s new fuel dock. Teams were met with two- to four-foot seas but diminishing winds and seas as the day progressed. On Sunday morning winds were light and made the day perfect—something we haven’t seen for some time in Key West. You could run anywhere you wanted but the Banana Bar attracted many teams. Some ran even farther with no luck.

After seeing a super 58.01 hit the scales Saturday shortly after the scales opened at 3 o’clock by the Miss Ivory followed a couple of minutes later by Unlimited Tito’s 58.90, we knew that this was going to be a super event and we were right. We knew that it would not end till the last fish was weighed on Sunday.

Steve Squires and Lynwood Riggs from Kinston, North Carolina teamed with Billy Delph from Key West to win the event with a spectacular 70.68. You’ll remember Billy when he scaled a 71.89-pound king in the Naples, Florida tournament back in 2004. He held the big fish honors until ’09 when the McMullans surpassed that record in the National Championship in Biloxi with the current record of 74.10 pounds. They fished on a 40-foot Yamaha powered Sea Hunter.

“We caught that very special fish on Sunday, the second day of the event,” Steve began his explanation of the tournament. “We actually fished further west on the first day but figured out that the Banana Bar was the place to be. We had a 48 already in the box when the fish skied on the big blue runner. There were other teams in the area and one called us to say they saw the fish and that we had a really big fish on. I took my time with her but when she came over the gunwale we knew she was a very special fish,” Steve explained to me. “I knew she was in the high 60s but didn’t think she was a 70. But I did know she was a very special fish!”

He went on to say that Billy has taught him a lot, but first and foremost they fish differently here in the Keys compared to North Carolina. Billy always tries to fish the biggest baits he can find and they’re fresh and he trolls faster than I do. Our baits back home just aren’t as big so we troll differently. He pays so much attention to detail from jigging to keeping the baits fresh.

At the awards ceremony Lee Murray presented the team with the keys to a new 18’ Evinrude powered Release boat complete with a Continental trailer for their win.

Jason Johnson and Craig and Chandler Peden scaled a great 58.01 on the event’s first day only to have Tito’s come in right behind them with a 58.90. Obviously they were disappointed but day two was still ahead. The Mercury powered Sea Vee team from Fort Myers, Florida went out and bagged a super 60.21 on Sunday to earn second place overall.

“It was between 10:30 and 11:00. We were letting the bait out when the fish struck but it was fairly routine after that. Were we excited? You bet. We’ve been fishing together for 15 years so this was certainly special!” Very few fisher people can lay claim to landing a 60. This was very special and certainly made up for their disappointment on Saturday. Chandler is a junior angler and was awarded second place in that category.

Chad, Brad, and Gary Hickman, Ken Dellane, and Dieter Voeltz earned third place fishing the Mercury powered Jupiter named Blue Whistler/

“The first day was pretty slow but we still managed to get a 39.18,” said team captain, Chad Hickman. “On day two we went back to the Banana Bar and found our 59.87. We worked the area really hard but it wasn’t till noon when she ate a Lee’s live goggle eye. We had worked farther south reef-side and were in 100’ of water.” Chad went on to say that he believes the key is having the right baits. “Thank you, Lee!”

“We like fishing in January in Key West and have been here just about every year. We cannot thank Lee Murray enough for continuing this event year after year,” Chad added, “and the new Stock Island Marina Village was superb!”

The fishing team named Unlimited Tito’s was fourth. Named after the popular vodka that sponsors the team, John Jackson, Mikey Edwards, Joey Saracione, Carl Torresson, and Grant Portier dropped to fourth after leading on day one. Don’t shed a tear for them for they had one of the best fishing days I can ever remember scaling a 58.90 on day one and a 55.92 plus two more 50s on day two.

“It was tough and nerve racking,” said Jackson. “We were at the top on day one but knew the fleet was zeroing in on where the fish were. They did and we went from first to fourth.” But who can argue that they didn’t fish hard and turned in a stellar performance scaling three kings in the 50-pound range, just none better than the 58.90. You have to admit it, three kings in the 50s in one day makes a great experience. And remember, more than 85% of the fleet never got close to a 50. The Unlimited Tito’s team had four!

Unlimited Tito’s, sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, is a brand new 34 foot Yamaha powered Blackfin. Make sure you take a look at it!

Fifth place was the only spot in the top ten that a non-member team captured.

Sixth place went to our 2010 National Champion Terry McCray from Apopka, Florida. Terry, his son Ryan Johnson, and daughter Kalynn Handy, fishing on their Evinrude powered Wellcraft named All In, scaled a great 50.58 on day one. Ryan caught the 50-pound king plus his first wahoo and sailfish on day two.

“We arrived at the Banana Bar at 7:40 on day two. Jack, our first line in the water with a ribbonfish down 45 feet got hit and Ryan made short order of the fight. It was a king but not bigger than the 50 we caught the day before. Then he caught his first sailfish on a ribbon also. It was six feet in length.”

“Right after that Kalynn got her first sail fishing a goggle eye down. This is certainly a weekend we’ll never forget. The sail was seven-and-a-half feet in length.”

Kalynn was the event’s Top Lady Angler! This is a great family fishing team!

Jagermeister, with Brian Humphreys at the helm, along with Mike Minia, Alicia Lipscomb, and Ray Vidal, picked up seventh place with a 49.81 caught on day one.

“We fished just 17 miles from Stock Island and were in fish all day,” explained Humphreys. “I caught her at noon on a ribbonfish down and she literally came right to the boat.”

The team went back to the same spot on day two and within 25 minutes they released six fish. It was non-stop but it was our day one fish that turned out to be our biggest for the weekend.”

The team fishes a Yamaha powered Contender and is sponsored by Kluch Clothing, X-Generation Custom Rods, and E-Sea Rider along with Jagermeister.

P.J. Myers, Keith Mangus, Stevie Cooper, and junior angler Jake Myers picked up eighth with a nice 48.88 caught on day two and surpassed the 43.57 caught on day one. Jake earned third place Junior Angler.

“Yes we were at the Bar with the rest of the competitors,” P.J. started. “We had both runners, which we caught, and goggle eyes we bought. It was about one o’clock when our king skied on a gog. Jake, of course, was the first to the rod and brought her to the boat.  We were right next to the Tito’s team. I have to say that Jake has really matured. He’s no longer a junior who just comes along, but a respected member of the team. He literally can do it all on the team. We’re pretty proud of him!”

The Sword-A-Crazy team of Thomas “Butch” Cardenas, Mark Bosler, Blake Campbell, and Guy Ward, came down from Panama City Beach and earned ninth with a 48.22. The Mercury powered Sea Hunter team was fishing just south of the Tail End Buoy.

“We’ve heard a lot about fishing here in January and it lived up to its reputation,” Butch replied. “I caught the fish using a Hard Tail off the kite on Saturday. We were fishing next to Lil Devil who saw the king sky before we did. She went ten feet in the air.”

“We did a lot of homework before we came down and it really helped. We won’t miss another tournament down here!”

Rounding out the top ten in the Open Class was Lance Irvine’s team, Young Guns. His team of Doug Perez, Tom Bardes, Carolyn and Houston Smith, Sean Hamil, and Steve Pagan, scaled a 47.94 on the second day of the event. They fish a Mercury powered Contender.

The Small Boat Class was won by Sammy and Steve Papia, Chris Joiner, and Jason Weinman on the Mercury powered Competition named Bada Bing. They scaled a 46.49 on day two.

“We started inshore using some local information but it didn’t pan out,” Sammy started. “We caught some low 30s at the Banana Bar then lost a big pig and caught a 32. Next day went back and caught a king right away. Then we put a big blue runner on our Cannon downrigger and sent her down. The 46 picked her up and the fight was on. When she came up we knew she was a good fish, so I didn’t miss the gaff shot, and the scale more than proved that.”

The team expects to fish a very aggressive schedule this year. “Starting in Key West and getting some good points is a great start,” Sammy boasted. He’s right. You must set a performance schedule for the team and then execute to the best of your ability. This team’s a winner!

Their sponsors include Aquatic Nutrition, Mr. Tigger Tackle, Cannon, and Columbia Sportswear.

Second place was earned by the Yamaha powered Cape Horn team of Raymond Pugh, Mark Kerns, and Bill Bean. They fish out of Nag’s Head, North Carolina on the boat named Fin-Nagle.

“This was our first trip to Key West,” said Pugh. “We’ve heard so much about this event we finally had to come and we weren’t disappointed. We know that the more we fish here we will learn how to figure this out. We did get some info and we were in the Banana Bar area. We found a slick and stopped. Caught a 37 and our 40 plus a nice dolphin and a sailfish.”

Finally, third place went to Frank Langdon who fishes an Evinrude powered World Cat. Frank fishes all alone and scaled a 39.50 this weekend. Frank is a regular in Division 10 and has won or placed in many, many events.

This was a fantastic event thanks to Lee Murray who has promoted the event for 18 years, plus the staff and management of the new Stock Island Marina Village went way out their way to make us feel extremely welcome. Personally, this is easiest marina we’ve ever worked with. They are going to build an 80-room hotel on the property in the very near future. Add to that the fun in Key West, great restaurants, good shopping, and friendly people. As Jimmy Buffett says, “Welcome to paradise!”


Open Class

Regulator / Yamaha
Steve Squires
Lynwood Riggs
Billy Delph
60.212. MISS IVORY
Sea Vee / Mercury
Jason Johnson
Craig Peden
Chandler Peden
Jupiter / Mercury
Chad Hickman
Ken Dellane
Brad Hickman
Gary Hickman
Dieter Voeltz
Blackfin / Yamaha
John Jackson
Mikey Edwards
John Saracione
Carl Torresson
Grant Portier
58.675. High Life
50.586. ALL IN
Wellcraft / Evinrude
Terry McCray
Ryan Johnson
Kalynn Handy
Contender / Yamaha
Brian Humphreys
Mike Minia
Alicia Lipscomb
Ray Vidal
48.888. TRIPLE J
Yellowfin / Mercury
P.J. Myers
Keith Mangus
Stevie Cooper
Jake Myers
SeaHunter / Mercury
Thomas "Butch" Cardenas
Mark Bosler
Blake Campbell
Guy Ward
47.9410. YOUNG GUNS
Contender / Mercury
Lance Irvine
Doug Perez
Tom Bardes
Carolyn Smith
Houston Smith
Sean Hamil
Steve Pagan

Small Boat Class

Competition / Mercury
Sammy Papia
Steve Papia
Chris Joiner
Jason Weinman
40.132. FIN-NAGLE
Cape Horn / Yamaha
Raymond Pugh
Bill Bean
39.503. KAT'S RIVAL
World Cat / Evinrude
Frank Langdon

Top Lady Anglers
50.581. Kalynn Handy

Top Senior Angler
70.68Steve Squires

Top Junior Angler
70.68David Delph

SKA Top Junior Anglers
60.211. Chandler Peden
48.882. Jake Myers
44.323. Paolo Bailey

The name Southern Kingfish Association and its logos are trademarks of the Southern Kingfish Association