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Tournament Seasons » 2002

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2002 National Championship

Information prior to 2008 is currently being sorted from our archives and will be added to the website as soon as possible.

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2002 Season

12TH ANNUAL LOADMASTER TRAILERS SUNCOAST KINGFISH CLASSIC

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John Smith found himself and his team, John Smith II and Todd Ferguson, in a very enviable position, on the leader board with a 34.56 after the first day. “We went back to the same spot on Sunday, our famous fall hole,” said the Captain of the Et Tu Brute. “We were in 80’ of water both days. Our first fish ate a blue runner on the downrigger, Sunday’s on a flat line 150’ back.” At the scale, weighmaster Butch Ellsworth proclaimed the king 40.24, the biggest fish of the day much to the delight of the large spectator crowd, second place in the tournament.

Second place SKA boat fell to the Never Satisfied with Tim Wooten behind the helm. “We went to the hard bottom on Saturday but no luck,” said Wooten, excited to have finished fourth in the tournament. “On Sunday we went to a reef off Clearwater in 53’.” Their 35.76 ate a blue runner on the surface. “I want to thank Dan Hockett for the info he gave us,” the Captain added. The Never Satisfied is a Yamaha powered Contender with Doug Boling and Doug Clark onboard.

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KAJUN SPORTSMAN

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Most boats are designed to handle 5 to 8 foot seas, even the smaller boats. Even an occasional 10 footer crashing over the bow quickly dissipates thru the scuppers. It's when you combine the rough seas generated by cold north winds that most fishermen throw in the towel. That combined with the aches and pains that come from all the heaving and bouncing make throwing a slab on the dock an exceptional challenge. That scenario played out at this years Kajun Sportsman's Tournament but of the 64 that signed up to get a fish on the books in the Division Seven opener, all checked out and a significant number weighed fish.

Hutch Thompson caught a big fish on Saturday and relaxed on Sunday making the others try to dethrone his Sujac team. "We ran 70 miles south in this stuff but it paid off,"said the happy Captain. "Ryan Roberts caught a king we thought would go 46 pounds. We put another bait out and trolled around the rig again and the big one hit." They, Thompson and Roberts along with Jack Thompson, Ray Allen, and Chad Anderson, fished 150 feet of water, caught their kings on the surface using live hardtails. "We knew we had a good run back beating into the north wind driven seas," exclaimed Thompson. "We weren't ready to have one engine quit. We left at 11:30 and spent six hours coming in. We didn't even know if we would make it in time." They did and won the events top prize, an 18' Pro Line boat, Mercury powered, and a Loadmaster Trailer. Presenting the award was Pro Line's Dan Atwood.

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La-Perla Top SKA Boat at 3 Brothers…Indian Rocks Beach KMT

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Randy Keys and Jimmy Hasson are no strangers to the winner’s circle. In fact the pair won the National Championship when the Nationals were held in St. Petersburg in the mid nineties. The duo ran their Yamaha powered Donzi after a flip of the coin to the 90’ hole. Keys won the toss, Hasson wanted to fish offshore. We’ll never know if they could have bettered a 42 pounder offshore but Key’s choice did earn them second place honors. “We caught a couple of good point fish however we really wanted to do even better,” said Keys. “About 2:15 I put out a big blue fish on a long flat line. Five minutes later she hit.” They made short work of the fight, picked up, and headed for the scales.

“ I told my partner, Warren Williams, we were going 23 miles to a spot where I caught a few good fish a couple of days ago,” said David Heavenridge, captain of the Top Gun. “We had six to eight foot seas but my new Mercury powered Donzi cut them down to size.” After catching a few small kings David was having second thoughts; time was running out. They picked up and ran to a spot 13 miles offshore, good hard bottom. We caught a small fish and as they were re-baiting the 38.32 fifth place fish hit the shotgun line. Twenty minutes later they were on the props, scale bound.

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TEACH’S LAIR KING MACKEREL SHOOTOUT

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For years the SKA has preached to the masses that fall fishing off Morehead City to Hatteras was as good a fishery as anywhere in the world. Big smoker kings come in to feed before their migration south. Andy Hinton, Greg Theodorakis, and Greg more than proved us right when they beat the all time SKA record of 66.5 pounds caught off the Mississippi coast several years ago by the Hog Heaven by five one hundredths of a pound. They really raised the bar for North Carolina fishermen by beating the SKA North Carolina record by nearly ten pounds set last year in the same tournament by Paul Prystash and Phillip Cottrell aboard the Long Overdue. It’s the second time this year the record has been broken.

“We ran out the inlet in our Mercury powered Donzi with a Roff’s Fishing Forecast in hand to a temperature break five miles out that we figured no one knew about,” said Hinton, explaining in as much detail as possible for the SKA archives. “The forecast was right however we weren't marking any bait so after just a few minutes Greg suggested we join the fleet fishing the bad bottom area about two miles inside the smell wreck.” Off they went and, as believed, found most of the 61 boats in the tournament slow trolling the area. “We got real frustrated when others were hooking up and we couldn’t get a strike,” explained Theodorakis. “Brad and Linwood called us to say they were hooked up and move their way. After they hooked up we moved over their slick and the big girl hit. At first I told the team it was a high thirties. I saw her hit the 15 inch shad in the prop wash but just didn’t look that big.” The king ran out about 150 yards, turned and came right back at the boat. Greg got a good look then and told the team to get em up fast. “She ran right for Mike William's (Release) lines.

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TEACH’S LAIR KING MACKEREL SHOOTOUT

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For years the SKA has preached to the masses that fall fishing off Morehead City to Hatteras was as good a fishery as anywhere in the world. Big smoker kings come in to feed before their migration south. Andy Hinton, Greg Theodorakis, and Greg more than proved us right when they beat the all time SKA record of 66.5 pounds caught off the Mississippi coast several years ago by the Hog Heaven by five one hundredths of a pound. They really raised the bar for North Carolina fishermen by beating the SKA North Carolina record by nearly ten pounds set last year in the same tournament by Paul Prystash and Phillip Cottrell aboard the Long Overdue. It’s the second time this year the record has been broken.

“We ran out the inlet in our Mercury powered Donzi with a Roff’s Fishing Forecast in hand to a temperature break five miles out that we figured no one knew about,” said Hinton, explaining in as much detail as possible for the SKA archives. “The forecast was right however we weren't marking any bait so after just a few minutes Greg suggested we join the fleet fishing the bad bottom area about two miles inside the smell wreck.” Off they went and, as believed, found most of the 61 boats in the tournament slow trolling the area. “We got real frustrated when others were hooking up and we couldn’t get a strike,” explained Theodorakis. “Brad and Linwood called us to say they were hooked up and move their way.

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CORAL BAY OPEN

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Al Morris Jr. and his team of Al Morris Sr. and Brent Bunn, fishing the Sea Drag’n, a Mercury powered Privateer, added another notch to his belt this weekend by bettering the 130 boat field at Coral Bay. Morris has been in the money a lot this season and this final victory is a true testament to the team’s fishing prowess. “We’ve fished the same area all season,” said the elder Morris. “We’ve managed to place six out of eight times from this area.” Sr. drove the boat when their shot came around 3 o’clock, Jr. fought the king, and Bunn gaffed the fish. “We were 35 miles from the scale fishing in 70 feet of water,” added Al Morris Sr. after the weigh master John Zalud announced 31.86 for their king. “She ate a large menhaden.” When the smoke cleared the Sea Drag’n team picked up about $20,000 in winnings. Excellent for an event this size!

Mark Malizia’s Ambitious team earned second place money with their 30.84, one of only three caught in the one-day tournament. The Fort Pierce, Florida team of Brent Bowman and Chris Blackwell were there to fish the Yamaha Pro Tour and entered the local event. “I never expected this,” said Malizia. “There’s a lot of great fishermen here in this field. I guess the weather turned the fish off, I know we really worked hard as did everyone.” They fish a Yamaha powered Contender. From Venice, Louisiana came the Crawgator team also fishing a Contender. “I came here to find one good fish, thank God it came on Saturday,” said a proud Bill Butler. “This is different from the way we fish in the Delta but we’re adapting.” Mike Butler, Steve Jenkins, and Freddy Travis teamed to scale a 30.77. They too were fishing the Yamaha Pro Tour and elected to fish the Division Nine event. Steve Cunningham from South Florida, fishing with his Georgia team of Lee Rodenberry and John Hall aboard the No Mercy, earned fourth with a 29.62. “We ran all over the ocean looking for a bite,” said Cunningham. “We really needed this fish.” They fish a Mercury powered Contender.

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FALL BRAWL KING CLASSIC

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Patience and persistence: a lesson team Wild Ride experienced first hand thanks to crewmember and lady angler Shayna Griffin. Without his normal wingman Randy Edwards available, captain of the Wild Ride Randy Griffin opted to make the Fall Brawl a family affair by teaming up with his wife, top lady angler Shayna Griffin and his father Randy Griffin Sr. aboard their 23 foot Wellcraft. Having already qualified for nationals in division 13 the game plan according to Randy was to “go big or nothing at all.”

On Friday before the tournament the Wild Ride team was able to pen up some pogies, which were becoming more and more difficult to capture. When tournament morning arrived, Randy was pleasantly surprised by the condition of their bait, which held up well due to the cooler water temperatures. “We decided to fish the Lighthouse rocks first because that’s where we thought we had the best chance of catching the winner,” said Randy. After fishing the Lighthouse rocks for a couple hours early in the morning with only one short strike, radio talk about a good bite going on offshore at the Shark Hole got the best of Randy and he decided to make the run. At the Shark Hole the bite was definitely on as immediately the Wild Ride hooked up to an 18 lb fish. After fishing at the Shark Hole for a short time and seeing only smaller fish Randy was able to communicate with fishing friend Craig Hewes on the Reel Time who was back a little bit inshore of the Lighthouse rocks. “Craig really helped us out, we’ve been teaming up all year now and it has paid off. He let us know he had caught a 25 and that we might ought to come back in there,” said Randy. A short time later the Wild Ride was back, now a little inshore of the Lighthouse rocks on a ledge. After fishing for a while with no action the thought of running down to Myrtle Beach rock, where a hot bite of mid-twenty size fish was going on, had entered Randy’s mind.

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DRUM INLET KING MACKEREL TOURNAMENT

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“That was the week it was 8-12 on Friday. I thought they were going to postpone the tournament but I sure am happy we got to fish on Saturday,” said co-captain Chip Sanders of Reel Screamer. Chip and his brother Chad have been fishing together for years. Howard Patton joined the brothers on their 23 foot Ken Kraft as they claimed first place with a 43.35 smoker. Chip and Chad took their Ken Kraft to the west side for about 15 minutes and got a call telling them to fish the east side. Their small boat made the trip to the 30 minute rock to join the four other boats fishing that spot. By mid-day that spot held 20 boats. Reel Screamer was patient and waited until 4:30 that afternoon when the bite turned on. A smaller fish was hooked when the winning fish fell for one of the lines left in the water. Chip wasn’t too sure how big the king was when it first hit but said, “Once it got close to the boat, I knew it was longer than what we already had in the boat.” That fish turned out to be bigger than any of the fish on the radio that Saturday. High fives were exchanged on the boat, and a little after 5PM the Ken Kraft was on its way to the scales. “We put our Yamahas to the test on the way back,” said Chip. Chip, Chad, and Howard thanked Ken Kraft boats and Webb’s Fiberglass as they accepted their prize money.

Once again John Lewis finished in the money this tournament season. Second Chanze boated a 33.85 good enough to take second place overall. A few other boats saw the 25 foot Contender near the 1700 Rock. Lewis and his crew started catching fish right away and the other boats soon left the area because they were not seeing any action. “We stayed hooked up all morning,” said Lewis about his 25, 28, 30, and 33.85 kings. He was pleased with the turnout and said,“We had a real good day.

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ONSLOW BAY OPEN KMT- BENEFIT OF ECKERD YOUTH ALTERNATIVE- FISHING FOR THE FUTRE PROGRAM

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Tim Newton and his son Nick, Jim Inman and Jim Panknin teamed aboard the Deal King to capture the 2nd Annual Onslow Bay Open KMT held out of Island Harbor Marina in Emerald Isle, N.C. Newton started the one day event with purchased bait. “When Stanman announced that the bait sellers were donating half the money from the sale of live baits I couldn’t resist,” said the Captain. “But we also stopped at Harkers Island and picked up a few fresh menhaden.” They then ran to the Dead Tree Hole but according to Newton, found the water not to his liking. “We kept moving out till we found clean water,” he explained. “We were in 60 feet of water when our bad boy hit a pogy on the long line.” The king weighed 31.35 when they got back to the docks just missing a big rain producing storm that most of the rest of the participants had to run through. No wind, just rain. Newton and the rest of his team then sat around the dock watching the fleet weigh in hoping no one had a bigger fish. They didn’t. The Deal King was king this day and Nick picked up Junior Angler Honors. He now also leads Division Nine with a two fish aggregate of 44.59 points.

Kent Raynor picked up third in this event with a 24.50. “We ran all the way to the west side and just kept moving till we found fish,” said Raynor, the Captain of the Bluewater, an Evinrude powered Wellcraft. “We found her at 1:30, she ate a pogy. Helping Raynor onboard was team mate Steve Gurba. The team now leads Division Nine’s Class of 23.

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TOWN CREEK SHOOTOUT

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John Lewis and his Second Chanze team is known and respected in North Carolina fishing circles. Maybe it’s because he always seems to get a check in most events he and Phil Munden and Mike Landreth fish. They certainly added to their credibility when they found the biggest fish of the Town Creek Tournament, the season opener for Division Nine. They went to the 30 Minute Rock but left there for a shot at the Fat Belly Reef. It was the right move. “We caught four or five fish in the low to mid twenties but couldn’t find the one we needed to win the tournament,” said Lewis. “We had bait penned up but found some big island shad that did the trick.” They caught their winning king, a 29.28 on a top line trolled way back. Lewis and his team already qualified for the Nationals earning second this year in Division One.

Miss Mercy’s Walter Giese and Ken Johnson bagged a 21.30 to earn the tournament’s fourth slot, second SKA. They fish a Yamaha powered Parker. Ricky Rowland and Scott Parrish earned fifth place in the tournament, but they were the third place SKA finishers. The Miss Micki team caught a 21.30 at the Dead Tree Hole using a top lined pogy. “I really can’t tell you why we fished there,” Rowland told me. “We ran in that direction and when we got there saw kings sky. We were also marking good bait fish so we just put out the lines.” Parrish bagged the fish a little after noon.

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GULF COAST TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

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Bruce and Cindy Rutledge and Mike Dillard came to fish the fourth leg of the Yamaha Professional Kingfish Tour but found themselves like everyone else, sitting at the dock because of a tropical storm in the gulf and headed straight for Biloxi. Most of the pros packed up and headed home but many ran into more bad weather on the road than they would have seen if they stayed in Biloxi. The bad weather was all to the east of the storm. The Pro Tournament was scheduled to be run along with the final event in Division 12. I told most of the locals to call me on Saturday to see if we could fish on Sunday. The weather broke and although the Gulf was strewn with debris the seas calmed to three feet or less and the event was on.

Bruce and Cindy decided to hang and fish Sunday, citing practice time for the Nationals, and walked away with all the marbles. The Irresistible, a Mercury powered Fountain, ran south fifty miles to work the rigs while most of the other boats headed for Louisiana’s West Delta waters. “We moved over to the Gus about 2:30,” explained Bruce. “We were fishing next to Randy Nader’s Exterminader. There was plenty of bait on the surface and birds working everywhere. It looked really good.” As the day was ending and the team knew it was about time to get ready to run in the big girl hit a top trolled blue runner. As it slid in the boat the hooks fell out of its mouth. They picked up and ran back to make the six o’clock deadline and made it with minutes to spare.

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ATLANTIC BEACH KING MACKEREL TOURNAMENT

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The Atlantic Beach Tournament is considered the Granddaddy of all Carolina tournaments. It’s the one everyone dreams about winning, carrying home the big money, and of course great bragging rights. While the top three boats were not SKA affiliated, our members did well, having five of the top ten boats in the field of nearly 550 boats.

Jim Harrison, Ricky and Robbie Bishop, from Reelality, were fortunate to have Chuck Arnold, the Northeast representative for Fountain Boats, let them use his personal boat for the ABKMT. That boat helped them bring home the largest SKA king tipping the scales at 40.85 and Jim said, “We are going to be famous this week.” Placing fourth overall and first among the SKA competition is a big deal for this group of guys. They fished Drum Inlet both days, and at 11 on the second day all of that time paid off. “It was about almost an hour. The current got up real bad,” Jim said of Robbie’s fight of the fish. The fish was dead and down deep making it difficult for them to get it to the boat. Once she came to the top the crew ‘stuck’ her and put her on the deck.

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SOUTH BRUNSWICK ISLANDS KING CLASSIC KMT

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The 2002 South Brunswick Islands King Mackerel Tournament champions were none other than the team of Robbie Brown, Bob Brown and Dwayne Foy fishing aboard the Miss La. The Miss La is a 35-foot Donzi powered with twin 250 Mercurys. This combination of crew and rig has seen their share of success in the world of king mackerel tournament fishing. The 2002 South Brunswick tournament marked the second victory for the team in as many years, previously winning the Topsail Island tournament.

I was once told about the three “P’s” of successful tournament fishing. They are in this order, preparedness, patience, and persistence. For the Miss La team, in this their second big victory, it only took one of the “P’s” to land them in the winner’s circle.

Due to constraints such as time, money and weather pre-fishing is not always an option for every team. However, when pre-fishing for an event is possible, many times invaluable information can be collected and thus further fulfilling the preparation side of the equation of successful tournament fishing. So was the case for the Miss La. Robbie Brown reported, “we found a real good bite at the 30/30 the morning before the tournament. We only used single hooks so not to damage the fish too bad and we still caught some good fish.

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SHALLOTTE INLET CLASSIC

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Local schoolteacher Thomas Hemphill elected to play hooky from his teaching job on Friday and fish the Shallotte Inlet Classic kingfish tournament. Thomas and his stepson, Cane Bellamy, and Frolley Hewes teamed up aboard the Playin’ Hooky, a 21 foot Starcraft boat which was one of the smallest vessels competing in the tournament. Fortunately for this determined team they realized it was the size of the fish caught and not the size of the boat that determined who would walk away with the check in the end. The Playin' Hooky team managed to overcome the boat size disadvantage that some claim and blow away the rest of the tournament field by laying a 47.5 lb slab on the scales, which is quite a big fish for this area. With their first SKA tournament win, a day spent playing hooky aboard the Playin’ Hooky turned into an unforgettable tournament experience for Thomas, Cane, and Frolley.

The Playin Hooky team began the first day of the tournament in normal fashion by searching the beach waters for schools of pogies to use for live bait. Thomas described the bait as "skittish" as it took over two hours to capture a well full of pogies. While they were hunting pogies they had seen a few kingfish skyrocket in the bait schools so they deployed their first baits in this area just off of Long Beach, but after a short while with no action Thomas elected to head the Playin’ Hooky offshore to an historically dependable big kingfish hole, the Cape Fear Shipping Channel. Like many locals know, Thomas also knew that in and out the most consistent place to have a shot at a big fish would be in the shipping channel.

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9th ANNUAL HYDRASPORTS/FISHING FOR MIRACLES

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We’ve heard it, we’ve seen it so many times. Small boat goes to inlet, small boat catches big fish, small boat earns big payday. It happened again, this time in the Fishing for Miracles tournament in Charleston, South Carolina. To add to the excitement of this scenario, the owner of the boat, Michail Shiver, was fishing in his first tournament. But he had a ringer, accomplished king fisherman, Joel Wood, so it wasn’t all luck. Wood who fishes with Rick Ryan on the King Size is no stranger to the winners circle.

“We hadn’t seen a fish all day,” said Shiver. “Then at three thirty it skied and ate a ribbonfish.”

“I didn’t think it was big enough to win the tournament,” said Wood after the tournament was over. “I guess you could say I rode on a beginner’s back.” The team won close to $40,000 thanks to Wood getting them into everything they could enter. Wood will probably put his share right back into his passion, Shiver on the other hand said he really needed the money, he was going through a divorce.Terry Grantham’s My Three Sons didn’t do too well on the first day and had to change game plans. Teammate Ron Enslen got on the horn and found that a friend had caught fish north of Georgetown. “He said they were biting like bulldogs,” Ron said after the team of David Baker and Joel Coker had weighed their 36.69 second place fish. They ran from Charleston to Georgetown and set up on the tideline, fishing in 40 feet of water. “The big king ate a ribbonfish set at 19 feet down,” said the Captain, Terry Grantham. “We put out baits at 8:20 and at 8:30 we had her on. We were ready to come back to the scales at 9.” My Three Sons is a 38’ Fountain with triple Mercury Outboards. They will qualify in this division however they are doing real good in the pros.

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SNEAD’S FERRY ROTARY KING MACKEREL TOURNAMENT

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The Sneads Ferry Rotary King Mackerel Tournament was a two-day aggregate giving first place a new 23' Contender Open Sea, with a 225 hp Yamaha and trailer. One hundred fourteen SKA boats were competing for that top prize and 48 of those boats weighed in at least one fish with 16 of those boats being 23 feet and under.

Mary Kandis edged out Sea Drag’n by just over one pound to claim that first place prize. Captain Neil, Travis, and Stuart Weeks were able to bring a 42 pound king into the boat on day two to boost their total aggregate weight to 63.27. Their 31 foot Fountain, powered by Mercury, was seen at 30 Minute Rock on the East Side along with about ‘100 other boats’ the second day. “We got out there early because everyone was going to be there,” said Travis. They got bait on the first throw of the net, found their spot, and got to work as soon as they could get lines in the water. The bait was easy to find, and it didn’t take them too long to find their first and only king of the day at 7AM. Live bait was the ticket all weekend, and that’s what the smoker hit. While the crew only landed one King, their five toplines hooked a Sailfish and had a little trouble with another smoking king that eventually was lost.

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WEST DELTA KINGFISH INVITATIONAL

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The Barfoot boys, Stephen, Randy, Tim, and Billy, ended the season in Division seven with a big win, beating the “big” boats by scaling a 50.5 on day one, then backing it up with a 43.2 to win the Venice Marine’s KMT in the Louisiana Delta. “With the weather as bad as it was, (six to eight foot seas) we decided to stay close,” said team captain, Stephen Barfoot. “We ran 25 miles south in 150 feet of water.” The team had three kings in the low forties before the big gal hit a deep trolled hard tail. “We went right back to the same spot the second day and found the 42 pound king which we thought was enough to win first place in the aggregate tournament,” said Randy Barfoot before they accepted their award. They had a two fish agg of 93.7 pounds caught from their 23 foot Yamaha powered Contender.

Cecil Capps Jr. owns an older 23 foot Mercury powered Sea Craft that acts like a fish attractor. Either that, or it’s his team of Earl Burbridge and Gerry Rucker that just have a knack of finding the big fish. Such was the case again in the Venice tournament. “We made the run to the east side the first day which blessed us with a 41 pound fish,” explained Capps. He went on to say, “We got the word where the big fish were caught on day one on the west side, and ran to that area.” Again the team went to work. Setting up in 160 feet of water they nailed a king they thought would go 50 pounds. “We picked up and ran to the scales where we watched the scale stop at 49.3 pounds. Their 90.3 pound aggregate earned second place but the 49 pounder gave the Sea Hagg team the Class of 23, Division 7, win and the largest three fish aggregate caught by any boat in the upper Gulf this year.

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GALVESTON YACHT BASIN KMT

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David Kennedy slammed the door on the entire field of boats in the American Rodsmiths King of Kings Classic at one 1:00 on the first day of the event when his team members pulled a 46 pounder over the gunwale. Fishing on Steve Cole’s new 36 foot Yamaha powered Contender, teammates Goldie Teltschick and Jim Hampton knew they had a good fish as the entire field, like them, were wallowing in unusually high seas. “We ran about 65 to 70 miles and decided that was enough,” explained Cole just before he collected the $10,000 top prize. “We already had a high 30s king in the box when this big girl hit a hardtail on the surface. This fish moved the team into fifth place in the division with 107.44 points with just one event left.

Darrin Taylor captains the 23 foot Triton, Insta-Gator. On this trip he also caught the second place fish, a 44.05. “We pre-fished and eliminated a lot of spots,” said Taylor. “It was rough but we still ran 90 miles to a spot we usually fish.” Fishing in 200 feet of water, their king ate a hardtail on the surface at 3:00. According to his teammates, Avery Wallace and Brad Taylor, this was their best finish ever. They now lead the Class of 23 division by almost 40 points over their nearest rival. You could say they have it all wrapped up.

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Laperla’s 60.15 Aggregate Captures Georgetown

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The object of most of the pros you talked to was to come out of Georgetown, South Carolina, with 50 more points on your side of the ledger. Most did! Some, however, improved their standings. While the weekend seemed to be a Team Wellcraft, Wal-Mart-Evinrude show, when the dust settled it was pretty evenly spaced throughout the brands. In the top ten there were three Fountains, three Contenders, two Donzis, and two Wellcrafts.

As the overall standings after two of the five events have been completed, let’s look to see who’s on first. Mark Malizia’s Ambitious took over the lead from Ken Thompson’s Penn Boat with a four fish agg of 118.8 points followed by Bill Butler’s Crawgator with 109.89. Both the Penn Boat and Clayton Kirby’s Fountain Vengence are third and fourth now with three fish aggs. Kirby’s third with 103.91, and Thompson with 101.52. Ed Mecchella’s Fish Fever, who is always in the hunt, is fifth with a four fish agg of 99.91. Close behind is the Wester’s Big Bad Wolf with 96.88 and Terry Grantham’s My Three Sons with 93.63. Last year’s runner up is within striking distance, Sandy Smith’s Gatorbait, 92.5.

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HANCKEL MARINE KINGFISH CLASSIC

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Greg, Jeff, and Bob Weathers from Triple Gobble are on a mission to make the Nationals in Biloxi in November, and at 9 AM on Friday they moved a step closer. Their twenty-three foot Johnson powered Hydra Sport was in the right place at the right time as they landed a 39 pound kingfish that gave them a fist place victory at the 2nd annual Hanckel Marine Kingfish Classic.

Although this is their first win of the year, a third place finish with a 26.6 at Rumph Brothers puts them in the catbird seat for Division 14. Captain Jeff Weathers took the team south of Charleston, where they fished in about 50 feet of water. They happened to stumble across this fishing hole one day, and it paid off as their only bite of the day was hooked with a pinfish on a top line from this spot. "It made a 350 yard run at first then went deep," said Greg. They had a good look at her after 30 minutes and Greg said, "I knew it was a big fish." The gaff finished the fight the third time she came to the top. Although the crew was a little disappointed that the king did not reach the 40 pound mark they are more than pleased with the win and the pocket full of money. The final half hour of official tournament time brought in enough boats to make the Triple Gobble crew a bit nervous, but they loosened up as the last boat weighed in, and with a smile on their face, thanked their wives for letting them fish.

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Leeward’s 50.70… Best at Ancient City

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On day one of the Ancient City KMT in St. Augustine, Florida, I was standing on the city marina's municipal docks as the early boats arrived for weigh in. Most know early boats usually mean big fish. There were two non members and Frank Strickland's Rebecca Ann. Frank, Frank Jr., and Marty Rowland had yet another good fish and after watching the three boats weigh and you know who I was pulling for, Frank was on top with a 40.8. They pulled into a slip and watched as others slowly came trickling in.

The Knot Home captained by Steve slid up to the dock with one that looked equal to Frank's, but missed the mark by a half pound. The 23 foot Wellcraft team would end up fourth right behind Frank, however they were elated because this was their first 40 in tournament competition. They fished the Elton bottom. A few minutes later a 20 foot Hydra Sports slid up to the dock. It was the Leeward, Lee Ward's boat. The team managed to lift a stud of a fish off the boat and Lynn and Rod Hatfield moved up the walkway both holding an end of the fish. I hollered at Frank and Marty, "this one's bigger!" It was, a 50.70 that shattered the tournament record.

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Leeward’s 50.70… Best at Ancient City

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On day one of the Ancient City KMT in St. Augustine, Florida, I was standing on the city marina's municipal docks as the early boats arrived for weigh in. Most know early boats usually mean big fish. There were two non members and Frank Strickland's Rebecca Ann. Frank, Frank Jr., and Marty Rowland had yet another good fish and after watching the three boats weigh and you know who I was pulling for, Frank was on top with a 40.8. They pulled into a slip and watched as others slowly came trickling in.

The Knot Home captained by Steve slid up to the dock with one that looked equal to Frank's, but missed the mark by a half pound. The 23 foot Wellcraft team would end up fourth right behind Frank, however they were elated because this was their first 40 in tournament competition. They fished the Elton bottom. A few minutes later a 20 foot Hydra Sports slid up to the dock. It was the Leeward, Lee Ward's boat. The team managed to lift a stud of a fish off the boat and Lynn and Rod Hatfield moved up the walkway both holding an end of the fish. I hollered at Frank and Marty, "this one's bigger!" It was, a 50.70 that shattered the tournament record.

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KING OF THE CAPE CLASSIC

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The 2001 National Class of 23 winner and noted Carolina journalist, Jerry Dilsaver, wanted to produce a tournament that would support a cause near and dear to him, the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association (LBARA). He succeeded on both counts, raised some money and held one great event. The LBARA, a non-profit organization, established and administers the renewal of the seven artificial reefs in the Atlantic Ocean off Brunswick County. Unfortunately, the LBARA has gotten caught up in the North Carolina budget crisis and there are no state funds to assist them. In applying for federal funding assistance, the award is based on matching funding from the organization's own fundraising. "We would have assisted them even if it hadn't been severely affected by the state budget shortfall," stated Tournament Director, Captain Jerry Dilsaver. "They are to be thanked for providing such great locations for us to fish over the years. Now with the funding shortage it is absolutely critical that we step up and support them. The tournament fishermen know this especially well, and it was good to see them so willing to help out." From SKA's standpoint Jerry did a great job however every angler with a boat should have registered and supported this cause. They'll fish the US Open and kill an ungodly amount of fish, but to help the resource, they stay home. It's truly sad!

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LEGENDARY KING MACKEREL TOURNAMENT

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Clayton Kirby, two time top Angler of the Year, has always been able to keep pace with the upper Gulf anglers even though it's not his home waters. He proved it again by winning the Legendary KMT in Destin, Florida. "I only had one day to fish, had some business obligations," said Kirby who fished with Jacksonville, Florida's Dennis Sergent, a past National Champion. "We ran south of Mobile and fished in 180 feet of water. Our first fish was a 40 pounder but we knew that wouldn't be good enough to win," Kirby explained. "We picked up and ran six more miles west. Caught several small fish then the big girl hit." The team used ribbonfish and hardtails with the 54 pounder hitting the downrigger.

Neal Foster's Intense put another 50 pounder on the scale to earn second place. "We only had a 37 after the first day so we knew we had to make the long run," said Foster who fishes with Robbie Montgomery, Andy Conklin, and his daughter Shea. "We ran 160 miles west to an area I wanted to fish. We set our flat lines then put a Better Baits ribbonfish on the downrigger. No sooner had we got the baits out when she hit the ribbon." After a brief fight and securing the 52.1 pounder in the fish bag the team headed back to the scales. Coming under the bridge in Destin the motors began to sputter. "We just made it, we were right at the limit of our fuel capacity. Our Yamahas are very fuel efficient." Shea would take top junior honors once again.

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CARTERET COUNTY SPORTFISHING ASSOCIATION’S KING MACKEREL TOURNAMENT

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Who would have thought any different? After placing two spectacular kings, one a 51.95 caught in the Raleigh tournament, then a 50.55 bagged in Carteret on the scale Dean Spatholt had it sewed up. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy! Dean fishes with his wife Laura and his son Russell aboard the 36 foot Yamaha powered Contender, Fish Meister, and is one of the Carolina’s best. Their third fish, a 14.25 gave the team a 117.35 aggregate. Laura won Top Lady honors and Russell won Top Junior also. They now move on to the big show where anything can happen. One thing to remember, when you’re good and if you’re on one of those lucky streaks teams get every so often, then the Spatholt team certainly have to be factored in as a strong contender at this year’s Nationals. The fish are big in Biloxi but the team certainly knows how to pull a smoker over the gunwale. The year isn’t over yet.

John Lewis, Brent Ballard, and Neff Morrison caught a 98.1 pound, three fish aggregate to earn second place aboard the 25 foot Yamaha powered Contender, Second Chanze. They scaled a 12.85 at Raleigh, a 50.55 money fish in Carteret, then a 37.5 money fish at the ABKMT. If you were to rate the top ten fishermen in the Carolina’s, Lewis would be on that list. His 12 pounder spoiled a really spectacular season but we know that the early part of the season was tough. My prediction this year is that Lewis will finish somewhere in the top 20 in the Nationals if not just outright win the whole thing. Oh yeah, he’s that good! Tim Newton’s 81.92 aggregate was good enough to earn third this season. He fishes a 28 foot Mercury powered Privateer, Deal King, and will go to the Nationals on Mercury. What’s really remarkable is that this team has only a two fish aggregate. They bagged a 48.50 money fish in Carteret, then snagged a 33.42 in Snead’s Ferry. If they’ve got another fish in their streak and work with the other Carolina qualifiers, they’ve got a shot.

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ST. MARY’S KINGFISH CLASSIC

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You haven't seen much of Ricky Raleigh lately. He told me that he wasbuilding a new house plus had business obligations so he was taking a hiatus. I think to show everyone he was still a top king fisherman and not to forget his team, Victoria's Secret, he entered the St. Mary's Kingfish Classic. The one day event leaves little time to make mistakes so Raleigh and teammate Jim Harris, on advice from friends, headed for the Elton Grounds. They caught five kings in the 20 pound range through the morning and into early afternoon. At 3 o'clock the winning king, a 46.89, hit a double pogy rig on the long line in 115 feet of water. "The weather got real nasty and we had to run through storms to make the weigh in," said Raleigh. "Our 36' Contender made it all too easy."

Raleigh and Harris won a 22' Mercury powered Triton complete with Loadmaster Trailer for their day's work. Their one fish pushed them into the top 15 in Division 4. Another fish at Golden Isles and they're goin' to Biloxi.

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The Stars & Bars Fly High in Freeport

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Conditions were great as the fleet blasted out of the Freeport Jetties on the first day of the Freeport Kingfish Classic. Carl Christoph and fishing partner Rusty Walla aimed their Contender "Stars & Bars" Northeast to make the sixty-mile run to one of their tried and true fishing holes. Along with them were their sons Chris Christoph and Nathan Walla, who were excited about spending the day fishing with their dads. Carl and the boys had found a few kings in the area while pre-fishing Thursday and hoped that the fish would still be around. They caught several small fish slow trolling hardtails on the surface. About noon Rusty landed a fish that would weigh in the forty-pound range. Everyone was ready to make the run home to the weigh-in but Rusty said that they had three or four baits left so why not put them out for a few minutes before they headed South. Fifteen minutes later their winning 51.22 pound Kingfish was in their fish bag. The rest is history. The fishwould also give Chris and Nathan the first place Junior Angler Prizes. Carl credits their win to all the help he had received Thursday from Steve Cunningham and his crew at Contender Boats. He had a problem with one of his fuel pick ups and Steve went out of his way to make sure that they would be able to fish on Saturday.

Bruce Fuselier's "Outcast" finished second with a fine 44.70-pound fish, the largest king caught on Sunday. He said that they ran 120 miles offshore and had their baits in the water for about fifteen minutes when the big king ate a live runner trolled on the surface. They put the fish in the boat, loaded up their gear and made the run back to the marina to weigh the fish.

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In Too Deep’s 54.37 Earns Win at Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo

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The first king mackerel weighed in the three day 70th annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo came as the scales opened at ten on Friday morning and was never challenged until late Sunday afternoon.

Christopher Pitt's In Too Deep, a 21 foot Contender, pulled up to the ADSFR docks about ten minutes before the scales opened. When given the OK, his team of Kenneth Pitts, Timothy Hite, and Brad Pitts hefted a 54.37 on the table for the officials to certify. In what has become the largest fishing tournament in the country, In Too Deep went atop the leader board for both the Kingfish Jackpot and Class of 23 top boat.

The only challenge came from Neal Foster's Intense. He and his crew, Robbie Montgomery, Shea Foster, and Tim Berger had already weighed a 48.60 on Saturday but tried to better it on Sunday. Pulling a stud from their bag in front of the weigh master made everyone on the In Too Deep hold their breath. As the weigh master proclaimed 54.22, Foster buried his head in his hands then asked, "Are you sure?" All the time Pitts and his team were whooping and hollering. Foster's boat name, Intense, reflects his team's spirit. They give it their all, all the time. It's why they're so good.

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GREATER WILMINGTON KING MACKEREL TOURNAMENT

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Similar to the children's books, Where's Waldo?, in which a character with large eye glasses and a red striped shirt is placed in a large crowd of people where he blends into the environment, the Hooligan fishing team blended into their environment and returned to the scales on both days of the tournament with the winner. That's right; Joe Winslow and team member Fred Coyne did it again. From those attending the awards on Saturday night, the most common phrase I heard, and have heard it at many award ceremonies in the recent past, was "Where was Winslow?" As in his numerous past tournament successes the question still remains, but to fully appreciate this story, I'll start from the beginning with the information I was given.

It all began after last year's GWKMT when Joe and Fred both vowed to fish for "all or nothing" in this year's event. On Thursday before the tournament, the Hooligan team caught 150 fat back pogies behind Harkers Island near Morehead City. The plan was to have the bait pinned up and ready to fish for the following day, but of course like so often is the case, on tournament morning the bait had all died. Joe elected to escape the crowd of boats fishing in nearby waters and "fish alone" by running to his more familiar home waters north of the Cape Lookout shoals. Once again, he caught fresh bait behind Harkers, then jumped the shoals and, after an undisclosed amount of running, anchored up in 35 feet of water over structure. According to Joe they, "chummed like hell." The first day brought only one bite to the Hooligan and it was a good one. The fish hit the prop wash bait at the last minute before they had to leave.

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22ND ANNUAL BELLSOUTH GREATER JACKSONVILLE KMT

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I saw Tom Rady's Contender, the Barely Legal, on the hook in front of the weigh station when I arrived at Sister's Creek Marina for the first day's weigh in of the Greater Jacksonville King Mackerel Tournament. Whenever you see a boat on the hook or tied up to the dock, you automatically assume that they have a good fish. There were eight other boats doing the same thing.I can only imagine what was going through the minds of crew members Paul Chaus, Mark Titus, and Andy Seeker, waiting for the 3 o'clock signal to bring the fish to the scales. They knew they had a once-in-a-ifetime fish but until she was on the scale, their job was not complete.

Going up the ramp, Tom hollered to me, "She registered 57 on my scale." It wasn't long before the electronic scoreboard flashed 55.20. Rady and crew had a king bigger than any king ever weighed at this tournament. Florida Senator Jim King, the tournament's announcer, proclaimed "It's a new record, the Barely Legal has just won $20,000."

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YAMAHA/CONTENDER JOLLY MON KING CLASSIC

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For once in this year's young tournament season in the Carolinas, things were shaping up just right for a great event. Up until the weekend prior to the Jolly Mon tournament the king mackerel had been m.i.a. along the southern North Carolina coast. However, starting on the Saturday a week before this tournament and continuing right up until the captain's meeting, the fish were biting like bulldogs. Reports of numerous 30's, 40's and even a few verified 50lb fish had the fishing community buzzing and ready to hit the water. That, combined with the beautiful weather that had graced us for over a week, which was forecast to continue right through the tournament, promised for a memorable event.

For a 28 foot Mckee Craft, Team Mckee Craft, the 2002 Jolly Mon will be a king mackerel tournament they will never forget thanks to a 43.55lb slab that put this Carolina Beach based team into the winner's circle for the first time after only one year of competition fishing. Their day started at Carolina Beach where captain Scott Harris had been watching school after school of pogies pass by the beach all week. Unfortunately, like so often is the case, on tournament morning they had all disappeared probably due to the fresh northeast wind that kicked up during the night. Luckily though, just a few miles back to the south of the Cape Fear River the pogies were plentiful as the team was able to get a net full off of Oak Island.

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MISSISSIPPI DEEP SEA FISHING RODEO

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Two big paydays in less than a month is nothing to sneeze at. But the saying goes, "when you've got the mojo, run with it, enjoy it, and definitely count your blessings."

Marty and Kelly Daniels, Rich Schultz, Pat Flood, and Rick Freed of the Instigator, out of Mobile, have that mojo. A string of good luck that is paying off handsomely. They won the Outcast tournament in Pensacola a few weeks back and now won the inaugural tournament of the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, King Mackerel Jackpot Division, in Gulfport.

"This is unbelievable," said the captain of the 24' Cape Horn boat. "I can't believe the fish held up."On the first day of the three day event, Kelly Daniels hooked up to the 48.55 pound fish around noon and a half an hour later the winning fish came over the gunwale. "We ran about 50 miles and fished in 100 feet of water," explained Marty Daniels before collecting his $10,000 check. "We fished the next couple of days but didn't come close to bettering this fish." Kelly also won the Top Lady award and the team moved into second place in the Division with a three fish agg of 136.70.

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NSFA/FBHS TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS

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Second place in the Fernandina KMT is the only aggregate that counts in the top twenty. It's hard enough to put one good fish on the dock but the Cannady clan, Andy, Mark, Tommy, and Wes found a way to get two good fish to bite and take top SKA honors in the tournament. You guessed it, the winner caught a 42 but was not a member. Oh well, that's a lot to leave on the table.

Team Pro Star caught a 32 pounder on Friday but knew that if they were going to stay in the good money bracket they needed to move. "We heard of a good bite at Gray's Reef ," said Andy. "We caught five dinks, then all three of our lines went off at once. We thought we'd struck gold but it turned out to be three cobia." Their 28 pounder ate just a few minutes later sitting in 61 feet of water. It ate a double pogy rig. They had a 60.5 aggregate total and second place locked not to mention some great SKA points.

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GOLDEN ISLE KINGFISH CLASSIC

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Sam Britt watched as others weighed nice fish on the first day of the Golden Isles Kingfish Classic. He only had a king that barely made the ten pound minimum, but being the pro he is, he readied himself for day two. “We fished the Savannah Ships Channel,” said Britt after he scaled the tournament’s biggest fish, a 41.76. “It’s an area I usually fish and have caught some big fish there.” Kevin Hannon caught the bruiser along with the help of teammates Kevin Barker and Perry Hodge. They used a ribbonfish trolled 18 feet below the surface in 40 foot of water. “We had her in the boat by 9:30 and that’s when I knew we had a shot at the Contender boat.” They did, beating out Rodney James’s Overtime by a half pound. They got to hook up a new 23’, Yamaha powered Contender boat with a Loadmaster Trailer after all the festivities.

Rodney James was the man on Friday. He scaled a 41.13 late in the day to bump a non member with a 40.76 out of the lead—even got his name in the local newspaper. Like so many tournaments, you sit there in the lead hoping no one will have a bigger fish, but it does happen. “We’re real proud of our fish,” said the second place captain. “We got her in the boat at 4:15 PM, then had to scramble to make the five o’clock deadline.” James and his partner, Brian Rowe, made it with six minutes to spare.

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RALEIGH SALTWATER SPORTFISHING CLUB KING MACKEREL TOURNAMENT

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It rained and the wind blew hard but the dad, mom, and son combination aboard the Fish Meister fought hard and brought the winning fish to the scales of the one day Raleigh Saltwater tournament. Dean Spatholt captained the Yamaha powered Contender and around 9 AM junior angler Russell caught his biggest tournament king. "Didn't think he'd go 50," said Dean of the 51.95 winning fish. Fish Meister battled what many fishermen claimed to be 6 feet seas during the morning. It took 30 minutes to bring the fish into the boat. She got tangled in the prop and after raising the motor she circled the boat and it took one shot with the gaff to bring her in. Russell caught the monster king with a single pogie. Fish Meister was the first fish to weigh in and waited patiently for the 6 o'clock deadline to come.

Duke University sophomore Chesson O'Briant landed the second place fish with a menhaden in about thirty feet of water. He fishes aboard the Emerald Marine Fishing Team, a 29 feet Century with twin Yamaha 250's. Chesson was a few miles from Bogue Inlet Pier and only about 500 yards off the beach before 8 in the morning when he caught the 26.6 pound King.

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PENSACOLA BUD LIGHT KING MACKEREL TOURNAMENT

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Dan and Ronda Abshire, a husband and wife team, have conquered one of the two most prestigious titles in all of sport fishing, SKA National Champions. They are fortunate in the fact that they never need to qualify for the Nationals, however they choose to increase their mark in fishing circles. The Pensacola Bud Lite tournament is but another notch in their remarkable success story.

After no fish on day one, the pair with Quint Higdon onboard, decided to make a 90 mile run to one of their better spots. 'We had just deployed all out baits when a fish hit," said the Captain after weighing in a 58 pounder. "Ronda picked up the rod and the fight was on. I was pulling up the downriggers and asking Ronda if she thought it was a good fish. As I turned to reel our Better Baits ribbonfish in I saw the big girl come out of the prop wash and strike the bait. I immediately told Ronda to cut her line as Quint turned the boat to chase my fish. He maneuvered the boat with great skill which helped me get her to the boat." The RXcape was fishing in 150 feet of water and was on their way back to the scale by a little after 10.

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TEXAS KINGFISH CLASSIC

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Albert Vrazel, Mark Machala, and Gary Hervey teamed to put their 27’ Yamaha powered Contender, Lured Away, into the winner’s circle with a 45.32 pound king mackerel caught on the first day of the Texas Marine Kingfish Classic.The event, held out of Teakwood Marina on Tiki Island, was originally scheduled for the last weekend in June but was postponed due to inclement weather, according to tournament director Al Dwarshus. While the sun shone, anglers reported that seas kicked up to four to five feet even though the weather service predicted virtually calm seas all weekend.

The Lured Away ran 97 miles east of Galveston to fish in 100 feet of water. “It was our first bait in the water,” said team leader, Albert Vrazel. “It was an area we’ve wanted to fish and finally got there.” They stopped on an underwater wreck and indicated that as they began to move off the wreck the king followed them. “She burned off three quarters of the 20 pound test spool,” Machala explained. “When she came over the gunwale, the hooks fell out of her mouth. We were lucky!” They were rewarded with the keys to a 23 foot Yamaha powered Contender and a McClain aluminum tandem trailer presented by Robert Stokes of Texas Marine and Marty Bistrong, Vice President of Contender Boats.

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TOURNAMENT FISHERMAN’S CHAMPIONSHIP

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If you fished way to the south, like Canaveral, or the Red Tops off St. Augustine you had a shot at some money. At least that's where the top dogs went.

Rocky McKindles and Ray Washington found the biggest fish of this years Tournament Fisherman's Championship by running to Canaveral. It's a long run and a huge gamble. You may spend more time on the props than wetting a line but when it pays off, it pays off big. "We didn't catch a fish worth weighing on Saturday, so with information given to us by Russ and Rusty Russell and Mitch and Chuck Livingonce we headed our Contender south," said McKindles. The Bugs Munny were in 70 feet of water when the big girl ate a pogy on the surface. Then it was time to crank the Yamaha's and head for Beach Marine in Jacksonville to weigh their 37 pounder.

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CYPRESS COVE KINGFISH TOURNAMENT

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Louisiana's West Delta still has not given us the big fish this year that it's reputation dictates. I believe that because of the high water conditions of the Mississippi River, the fresh water pouring into the Gulf has had an affect on the fishing.

The Cypress Cove Kingfish Tournament is a two day aggregate event and after day one everyone was scratching their heads as to where to go. The boat High C's, a non member, caught a 49 pounder to lead the day's weigh in and they caught it just 20 miles from the scales. Most competitors were running a lot farther.

Todd King chose to fish 60 miles south west of the river and it was the right choice. On day one Trey Davis caught a 43.44 and on day two Paul Bridges bettered a 47.26 to give the King Scape first place honors with a 90.70 aggregate."We fished the same area both days but didn't catch our fish in the same spot," said King. "On the first day we fished in 135 feet but had to move to 160 feet the second day." They used all the tricks they could muster catching one on the surface and one on the downrigger. "It was tough fishing. On Saturday we needed all the time we could get. We fished both days right to the last minute."

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OUTCAST KINGFISH CLASSIC

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Outcast Bait and Tackle owner Tommy Holmes was very pleased with the turnout of his Outcast Kingfish Classic. Holmes made sure that this second annual tournament was top notch. "We take care of our fishermen and their families," said Holmes, and this showed as the bleachers and balconies at the marina filled with spectators. While 1st place finishers fish for a guaranteed amount of prize money, and over 50% of prize money was given out to a field of only 38% of expected boats, the United Cerebral Palsy Association came out a real winner as the tournament gave the organization $2,500. "We really give a lot back to the community. We want to give back to the community, and we do need to have a great turnout of boats to help," said Holmes.

The five man crew on the Mercury powered Instigator only needed day one to bring in the winning King. They fished about 100 miles southwest of the weigh-in using live Hard Tails and around 1 P.M. fought the 51 pound fish for nearly 45 minutes. Pat Flood thought he lost the fish when the line went slack in the dirty water but was relieved to bring the fish on board. He said of his catch, "It was a team effort, and I couldn't have done it without my team." Instigator also could not have done it without Delta Water Sports out of Saraland, Alabama. They had an outboard problem and took the boat in on Wednesday and picked it up Friday just in time to win the Outcast Classic. Cape Horn Boat Manufacturing also worked hard to make sure the team had a good competition boat that could handle the weather that started getting bad as Instigator made its way to the scales.

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Yellowfin Bags a 50…..Wins Port Aransas KMT

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With near perfect weather, John Thomas Dusek checked out at the Island Moorings Marina and headed out the Port Aransas Pass in pursuit of the biggest king mackerel he could find. He ran his big Yamaha powered Yellowfin to waters 45 miles from his earlier start. "We fished the rigs pre fishing Friday but really found no fish," explained Dusek just before he received the winners check. "Water clarity and the right color change was what we were looking for." Early afternoon they found the winning fish in 140 feet of water using a trolled hardtail on the surface." What was really amazing is that they also had a second king nearly the same size. After weighing their 50.29 they asked to take their fish to another marina to have them certified for the CCA Star Tournament, a summer long event that allows anglers to catch their fish anytime and have it weighed at a designated weigh station. Dusek fish captured the one and two slot in the king mackerel division. Fishing with Dusek was Pat Varga, Jason Brannan and Heather Niles who won the tournaments Top Lady Angler honors.

Clifford McCrummen's Family Attraction,a Class of 23 competitor, struck pay dirt on the tournaments first day with a 47.76. The American Rodsmith sponsored team could have sat on the hill the second day of the event when the weather changed and kicked the seas up to 5 to 8's, something that most of the competitors decided to do, but they were hard at it. "It wasn't pretty out there but we still looked for a bigger fish," explained the Captain. Allen Rosser is the teams Junior Angler and won the top slot while McCrummen racked up second in the tournament.

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DONZI/MERCURY KINGBUSTER 400 CLASSIC

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Division five has to be the toughest division on the SKA's Mercury Tournament Trail. Especially when you factor in the fact that this division has more members competing than any other single division. Now add the fact that you have two tremendous events, the Kingbuster Classic 400 and the Greater Jacksonville King Mackerel Tournament and you'll come to the same conclusion. To win any of the events is an accomplishment but when you consider all the facts winning or qualifying from this division is a feat few will ever attain.

How would you like to start off your season winning the Kingbuster and putting a 40 pounder on your side of the ledger? A boat named Legs did just that only they're not members so the winner in our eyes was Kevin Hardison aboard the Blue Lines from Jacksonville. now here's another kicker, Blue Lines is a 20' Cobia. Pretty work Kevin.

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Goin’ Deep Wins big bucks Tournament

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The weather held up nicely for Brad Hughes and Goin' Deep on the first day of fishing when they brought in the winning king tipping the scales at 33.28. The crew of Brad, Kyle, and Kevin Hughes took their Century, sponsored by Marker 350, out to water 70 feet deep and got lucky around 1pm the first day of fishing. 'It ran slow at first but put pressure on it and it took off,"said Brad as he described the winning fish that was thought to be a shark at first. Brad got a 40 minute fight out of the large king and once the fish was on board they knew they had a great chance to lead the tournament and headed back to the scales as soon as possible. The excitement and nervousness of being on the top spot lasted more than a full day. After the long wait until the scales closed on Saturday Brad said, "'bout time,' of his first win in three years of tournament fishing.

Goin' Deep looks to finish out division 3 and also compete in division 2 looking for that chance to make it to Biloxi in November. Hopefully they will be joined by Team Century Marker 350 who finished second with a 29.78 king. "It's a team effort," said Barrett McMullan of his and Rube McMullan's second place finish in their 23 foot Century. Team Century got the boat on Thursday the week of the tournament and was pleased with the outcome the first time the boat was put in the water. It's not too often that a boat will bring in a fish with no electronics in the boat, but that is what Barrett and Rube were able to do. They had no fish finder and no depth finder leaving them only able to guess that they were running in about 115 feet of water.

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TWO WAY SPORTFISHING CLUB KMT

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There's two kinds of fishermen, the hard core and the family fishermen. Everyone knows how I admire the guys who run and gun, the hotshots that always seem to find a spot of the big board. But my real admiration goes out to the family who fishes hard together. Todd Veal has such a family."You know any tournament you fish is a crap shoot," said the proud father as he accepted the two Way Tournaments top prize, a Wellcraft boat. "My game plan was to run out to 160 feet and set up. We fished for an hour with no luck. I saw two commercial boats working a ledge so we moved over." It was the right move however it wasn't until they put out their last bait, a cigar minnow, on the surface about 150 feet back, that enticed their 37 pound winning king. "Thanks to my wife Kelly and our two sons, Dillon and Rhett, we made it happen," said Todd beaming. The boy's were the tournaments top juniors. The family fishes a Yamaha powered Contender called the Sea Ducer.

Veal is also in second place in the Division with 67.59 points but he has only two fish. It now looks like it will be a race to the finish between Veal and Frank Strickland's Rebecca Ann who won the first two tournaments in this Division.

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DAUPHIN ISLAND KINGFISH CLASSIC

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Arriving at Larry Kirby's tournament site on Dauphin Island, we were ready to thank the fish gods for finally providing us with a great weather forecast. After setting up we began to talk to some of the early contestants, there to get registered. "Fishing's been real bad," seamed to be the consensus of opinion. "Great" I thought, here we have nice weather and no fish. Boy was everyone wrong. Not only did the fish really turn on but the weather also remain as predicted.

Doug Houston, the star of his own highly rated television fishing show shown on the Gulf coast, weighed the big fish on Saturday, a 53 pounder that everyone thought would be the big fish of the weekend. "We primarily looked for the right water color and temperature," said Houston, all dressed in his Team Cobia clothing. "We found it in 165 feet of water not too far from the scale." Houston was trying an experimental lure crafted by Mark Barfield and while some would question his judgment on using artificial baits the bottom line is they obviously worked. "We nailed our fish at 11:30 and had a hard time getting it to the boat," Houston added. Mark Collier was the angler. It was a great fish however it would eventually end up as the second place fish.

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22ND ANNUAL SWANSBORO ROTARY MEMORIAL DAY BLUEWATER/KING MACKEREL FISHING TOURNAMNET

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The winds blew for the week preceding the Swansboro Rotary King Mackerel, Bluewater Tournament making pre fishing near impossible. While bait was relatively easy to catch, landing a good king was next to impossible or so was the consensus of the near 250 Captain's entered. "This had to be one of the worse days of fishing I've ever seen in the 22 year history of the event,"said Tournament Director Jim Davis after Saturday's weigh in which only 20 fish were recorded and Mark Strickland 16.90 led the field. The bar was raised on day two.

We fished everywhere yesterday but found nothing," said Leonard Gibson of the G - Force. "We just picked the 14 Buoy cause it seemed as good as anyplace on Sunday morning." A better decision could not have been made. After deploying a spanish on the downrigger around 8 am, a fish hit and screamed the reel. "Jerry (Gibson, the Captain of the boat) thought it was a shark at first and came to the bow with knife in hand to cut him off, but I persuaded him to let me bring it up," explained Leonard. Thirty minutes later the tournament winning 29.75 king was in the boat. "We didn't get another bite so at noon we headed for the scales. The 30 minute fight that almost didn't happen netted the team nearly $30,000 which equates about a grand per minute in landing the fish. Not a bad day at the office!

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SAPELO OPEN KING MACKEREL TOURNAMENT

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For the second tournament in as many weeks, Frank Strickland and his Rebecca Ann crew won the tournament. "Same O, Same O, said Strickland after weighing his 28.85. "We really went to the same spot as last week but fishing was really slow. It wasn't till the afternoon before our fish hit a ribbonfish 15 feet below the surface. We had heard that fishing was slow up and down the coast so we took a chance and headed for the scales. Fishing with Strickland was Marty Roland, Gilbert Durrance, and Rex O'Neal. First place in the tournament was a beautiful 19 foot Century with Yamaha power and a Loadmaster Trailer.

The Bad Influence, a Mercury powered Wellcraft, earned second with a 26.85. "Our game plan was to run south to Canaveral," said team Captain, Stevie Pipkin. "We had no fish for the first hour or so , I decided then to put a ribbonfish on the downrigger. "That did the trick. They were fishing in 120 feet of water and the bait was dragged 80 feet below the surface. "We couldn't have done it without the good information we got from John Lee and Shawn and Ed Mecchella from the Fish Fever," he added. His team consists of Steve Anderson and Michael Fairman.

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DAYTONA KINGFISH BRAWL

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Jim Scharfchwerdt, owner of Saint Augustine based All About Boats, knew when he asked for an SKA sanction for a tournament in Daytona Beach, Florida, he'd have his work cut out for him. Daytona anglers have never been king mackerel fishermen. Don't know why but that's just fact. Jim's making up ground however almost reaching the 100 boat mark this year. It's just time before he has them hooked. You have to admit that with the Division 10 participants coming to town the locals may be more than intimidated. As Marty Bistrong put it, "This is one great tournament," and I can't think of a better person to critique an event.

David Ward brought his Pro Line to town, the First Shot , bagged a 40 pounder and left with the tournaments top prize. "We tried to find bait with no luck on Friday so we went north to St. Augustine where we knew there was bait," said Ward. "We then decided to fish Matansas Pass." Their first good strike turned out to be a large shark. "It's very disappointing when you spend time fighting a good fish only to find out it's not the right specie,"said teammate Charlie Rudeen. They deployed another spread of baits and went back to work. After a few minutes and no action Ward decided to put a ribbon fish on the down rigger. "It never reached the 10 foot mark before the big king was on. "We fought it for 45 minutes, brought it over the gunwale, and headed for the scales. We knew she was a good fish, maybe even the winner," Ward added. He was right.

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HALFMOON SPORTFISH CLUB KINGFISH KLASH

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Frank Strickland and Marty Rowland have been fishing buddies for a long time. They work extremely well together and have adorned leader boards in North Florida and Georgia for years. They started off Division Four with a bang this year, placing first in the Halfmoon Tournament with a 37.55 and did it with adverse conditions. It was rough!

"We fished south of the border," said Strickland who fishes his Yellowfin, Rebecca Ann also with Rex O'Neal and who caught their winning king. "We had her in the boat by 8:15. It then took us 6 hours to run back to the scales." They caught their fish on a pogy trolled on the surface. "We thru the net one time and had all the bait we needed," said Rowland. "Roy Byrd came an hour and a half after us and had a hard time catching bait. Sea conditions were really rough. "This is the first tournament of the year for their new Yamaha powered Yellowfin.

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14TH ANNUAL RUMPH BROTHERS KMT

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In the 13th Annual 2001 Rumph Brothers Marine King Mackerel Tournament, the father and son team of David Yates Sr. and Jr. broke the existing South Carolina SKA state record of 46.54 lbs. with a 47.03 lb. Smoker. They were, however, disqualified on a technicality, one of them forgot to sign up with the SKA officials and pay their $10 registration fee.

This year, Capt. Gary Smith and crewmembers Ellis Hamm and Nick Russell didn't make the same mistake. After coming up short on day 1, they set their sights on Saturday's competition. With a "sorry assortment of live bait," they headed east into the shipping channel. They were rewarded quickly with a good strike at 8:00 am on top that produced a scorching run and almost spooled Smith's 20 lb. Penn outfit. A frenzied chase ensued, and when the big fish came up beside the boat, Hamm made short work of the gaffing duties with a solid shot right through the eye.

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2ND ANNUAL GRAND OLE OPRY KMT

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The Class of 23 was designed to reward those who compete in tournamentsusing smaller boats. As fishing boats got larger and larger, owners of these smaller boats felt that they couldn't compete, they didn't have the fishing range, and rough weather really took them out of the picture. They had a point and most Tournament Directors agreed and put some money aside from the prize pool to reward these competitors.

At the 10th Annual Miller Lite Suncoast Kingfish Classic in Treasure Island, Leo Plenski won that Class of 23 money but also picked up the tournaments big check after scaling a 47 pounder on Sunday. "Leo came over to the SKA trailer to do his points, "explained SKA Tournament Director John Zalud. "I pointed out to him that his hat was looking pretty bad so he bought a new one. "As he left he told John he'd see him at the dock with a big one.

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AJ’S KING MACKEREL CLASSIC TOURNAMENT

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I don't know if Brian Bailey was more excited about winning the season opener for Division 15 or puting his sponsored Palmetto Custom on top. "Jimmy Metts and the staff at Palmetto Custom has been so good to us and the boat is incredible," said Bailey as he waited to collect his $15,000 check from AJ's. While the skies were sunny, the wind was pushing the seas to that uncomfortable level and with a west wind blowing all week the water was muddy and the fishing mediocre at best. Those that made the run back to Alabama waters still found the going tough.

For Bailey, his son Brian Jr., Jonathon Begoon, Hutch Thompson, and Steven Summersell, it was an incredible weekend. When they weighed their 35 pounder on day one they were placed atop the leaderboard. "I didn't think a 35 would hold so we went back to the same spot, 120 miles to the west," explained Bailey. "We got our big fish each day within five minutes of puting baits out," said Thompson who has placed or won this event every year he has fished it. " Our winning fish, the 41.89, actually hit a hardtail we were puting out. As the fish came over the rail the hooks fell out. We were lucky." They were fishing in 200 feet of water. Brian Jr. won Top Junior honors. Geoffrey Gibson just couldn't get out of second place all weekend.

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2ND ANNUAL GRAND OLE OPRY KMT

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Mother Nature gave the west coast and out of town anglers one of the best weekends we've seen this year. Maybe too good. Based on last years performance by Marcus Kennedy's Kwazar, fishing the middle grounds and coming in with the prize winner, a horde of boats opted for the same game plan but found flat seas and very little fish.

"We couldn't find a good fish on Saturday," said Miss Treated's Captain, Larry Galan. "We ran to an old spot we've fished 25 miles south of John's Pass. We only got one bite but it was the one we were looking for. "Fishing in 35 feet of water, the 41.34 pound king ate a blue runner and slid over the gunwale at 1:45. With a 3 o'clock check in deadline, Galan, fishing with Ron Galen and Phil Cleary, cranked the powerful Mercury's on his Pursuit and headed for Clearwater and the Grand Ole' Opry Tournament site at Coachman Park where they took over the tournament lead after weigh master Butch Elsworth officially recorded their weight. The trio pocketed over $43,000 in cash plus received the keys to a new 21' Yamaha powered Contender with a Loadmaster Trailer from Central Marine.

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FT. PIERCE KINGFISH OPEN

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FORT PIERCE - Clayton Kirby, Rick Stoker, and Dennis Sergent wasted little time christening the new 34-foot Fountain Vengeance. Fishing a new hull (No. 6, according to Kirby), the trio needed exactly one tournament to place the boat in the winner's circle.I guess that means they'll keep it.

Fishing an area nearly 50 miles north of Fort Pierce on the tournament's second day, Kirby and crew won the fifth annual Fort Pierce Kingfish Open and its top payout of $12,000 cash with the largest tournament kingfish Kirby has ever gaffed in Atlantic waters. Fountain Vengeance made a statement by showing the crowd of 2,000-plus exactly what a 51.42-pound smoker king mackerel looks like up close and in 3-D.

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8TH ANNUAL MERCURY OUTBOARDS SUNCOAST KINGFISH CLASSIC

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There are a lot of good kingfish holes off Florida's west coast and most of the fishermen know the majority of them. It's just a matter of where you pick on any given tournament day as to whether your favorite hole is holding a good king or one big enough to get you a good payday. Randy Rochelle, fishing his Mercury powered Caravelle, Gotta Go, picked the right spot, found a 38 pounder, and collected the 8th annual Mercury Suncoast Kingfish Classic at Perico Harbor Marina in Bradenton, Florida, top prize. "We fished about five miles south of Tampa Bay," said the proud captain. "We had two fast fish, then the big one hit. She hit a blue runner trolled 25 feet down. "Fishing with Rochelle was Leiza Fitzgerald and Jeanne Reeves who garnered the Top Ladies Trophy.

Larry and Ron Galan and Phil Cleary fished north of John's Pass in 42 feet of water aboard their Pursuit, Miss Treated. "She ate a blue runner on the surface mid morning," explained Galan. The scale read 37.62 which moved them into a solid second place finish.

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SARASOTA SERTOMA SUNCOAST KINGFISH TOURNAMENT

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Greg Samuels knew he had a good fish, he just didn't know after day one of the Sertoma Suncoast Kingfish Tournament, whether it would hold or not. "I'm not fishing tomorrow, it's Easter Sunday," said Samuel after signing his weigh slip. "I just hope we're still on top after tomorrow.

Samuel, fishing with Carl Carder and Billy Chilson aboard his Contender, King Pin, ran 65 to 70 miles to the north and fished in 80 feet of water. "It's a spot we've found fish before and we just took a chance, he explained. "We caught her at 11 O'clock on a blue runner". They were back at the dock when scales opened at 3 P.M.. Tipping the scales at just over 40 pounds the trio had to just wait out another day of fishing, then collect a cool ten grand. Victory was theirs.

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FT. MYERS KING MACKEREL SHOOTOUT

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Keith McCullar is one of those guys that takes his fishing very seriously. His dedication to strive for excellence certainly paid off in the Fort Myers Beach King Mackerel Tournament as he and his teammates,Ray Jordan and Butch McCoy, put a 43.6 on the scale to top the field. "It wasn"t pretty out there," he stated. "With the north wind seas were running 6 to 8 foot. We ran about 50 miles to the southwest and fished a hard bottom area.

"They caught their fish using a blue runner trolled 45 feet below the surface. "We want to thank Jerry Stephenson and Mark Combs who fish with David Van Lent on the In The Rough for giving us some good information," the captain was quoted as saying as he accepted the first place check. That fish coupled with a 35.1 and a 30.9 gives the Pilgrim an invite to the Nationals. They now sit third with one tournament to go.

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JUSTIN TIME’S LONG RUN PAYS OFF IN NAPLES!

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Manny Galvao and Kris Sahr piloted their Mercury powered Intrepid, the Justin Time, south toward the Tortougas believing that was where they'd strike gold. It was an easy run considering that seas were only in the two to three foot range. After 127 miles Manny pulled back on the throttles and Kris flipped over the first bait, a healthy blue runner. "It was about 10 "clock, we had a short line out just past the prop wash," said Manny after tying up to the dock as the scales opened on Saturday. "We saw her hit. Chris picked up the rod and a few minutes later we knew we had a real good fish."The king tipped the scales at 42.4 pounds. "We had some real good numbers down there. There were no reports of good fish being caught off Naples like two weeks before so we knew we had to make the long run," Chris added.

The only problem the duo had over the weekend was figuring out how to get the 21' Yamaha powered Contender after Johan Kriek, John Zalud, and Contender's Vice President Marty Bistrong presented them the boats keys for their victory. Towing the prize home on the Loadmaster Trailer would present no problem however.

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MARCO ISLAND KING MACKEREL SHOOTOUT

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Tripp Fletcher emerged from the check out line and pointed the bow of his Yamaha powered Contender, the No Limit, south toward the Tortugas. "That's where you'll find the big fish," he explained after scaling a 51.5 pounder caught by his fiancee Kim Mankins. Only he never made it that far south. "The weather was kicking up and the reports were for it to deteriorate as the day went on," he added. "I found some nice water holding bait about 30 miles out and decided to give it a try." It obviously was the right decision. "We caught her about 10:30 dragging a ballyhoo on the surface. We lost another good one on a runner."

For their good fortune, Tripp put another notch in the win column, something he and his family were very use to doing back in the late nineties."I started my own trucking company and had to curtail our fishing a lot," Tripp remarked. "I've got good key people in my organization so I can fish a little more now. "He won $10,000 for the events top prize, $5,000 for catching the first 50 pounder, Top lady honors for Mankins, and top junior honors for his son Hunter.

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HOG’S BREATH/MURRAY MARINE KMT DAY ONE

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KEY WEST, FL--Under perfectly blue skies, light winds and eighty degree temperatures, the 6th Annual Evinrude/Murray Marine Hog's Breath weigh in began today at 3PM.

One hundred twenty-five boats had checked out earlier this morning in flat calm sea conditions in search of that tournament winner that would net the lucky captain the event's top prize of over $10,000 in cash. A number of boats were awaiting the scales to open today with great fish aboard. In line to weigh was local Key West guide Tony Murphy, who took the Day One lead aboard the Key Limey with a 55.85 pound kingfish.

Casey Hunt would captain the Australian Gold team to second place with the tournament's other fifty plus pound king at 51.60 pounds. Both were caught on hardtails at undisclosed locations. Dick and Chrissy Russell nailed down third place on board The Brute with a 46.54 pounder. They also topped the Class of 23 standings for the event, since they boated their fish in their Mercury-powered SeaCraft 23. Russell was slow trolling large split-tailed mullet when the big king came calling on the starboard flatline.

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