Jody Gay, Kevin Sneed and Kimber Sneed show off their 48-pound king mackerel during The Kingfish Cup Sunday off Ocracoke, N.C. Photo courtesy www.OIFC.com
How much money? Crew hauls in biggest sum in king mackerel fishing history with win
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
November 09, 2018 05:41 PM
In 20 years of fishing in competitive king mackerel tournaments, Kevin Sneed sure picked the right time to win his first one.
Sneed and crew aboard Rigged and Ready, a 31-foot Competition, weathered seas up to 6-8 feet to claim the 2nd annual Kingfish Cup championship Sunday out of Ocracoke, N.C., with a two-king mackerel aggregate of 81 pounds.
The victory is historic, as the Rigged and Ready crew went home with $127,755 in prize money, a sum called the largest in king mackerel tournament history by Capt. Brant McMullan, one of the founders of the Kingfish Cup. The tournament paid out a whopping total of $255,512 to the top four teams.
“It was a special moment for us all,” said Sneed, of Holden Beach, N.C., who was fishing with his wife, Kimber, along with Jimmy Stubbs and Jody Gay. “I didn’t realize it until Brant said ‘Let’s have Team Rigged and Ready come on down, they’re about to receive the largest payout in king mackerel tournament history.’ “
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A cold front postponed the championship, which was originally scheduled to be a two-day event last Friday and Saturday, with each competing team able to weigh their largest king mackerel each day.
Instead, the 31 competing teams headed out Sunday morning, facing sloppy seas thanks to a 15-20 knot northeast wind and tasked with weighing in two kings in one day for their two-fish aggregate.
Rigged and Ready started by working Weezle Rock, 10 miles south of Ocracoke Inlet, but action was slow. Sneed got a tip from the Wahooligans team that there was some activity at Potlicker Rock, so he headed a few miles north to that spot.
Sneed and crew had bait issues earlier in the week when most of the menhaden and bluefish they had caught and penned died.
“A buddy gave me six or eight mullet that morning and that’s what we wound up catching our fish on,” said Sneed.
Once at Potlicker Rock, they quickly landed a 33-pound king that hit a long, top-lined bait.
The crew then landed a few medium-size kings, but was still looking for another smoker. Around 2:30 p.m., they got it.
A king nailed a large mullet, once again on the long, top-line and took off, headed offshore.
Gay grabbed the rod and they chased down the fish. About 15 minutes later, Sneed gaffed and pulled aboard a huge king that wound up being a 48-pounder and in essence the tournament-winner.
“I seem to catch the big ones the day before or the day after the tournament,” said Sneed. “All the stars were lined up that day.”
After a slow, rough ride back to Ocracoke, Team Rigged and Ready was declared the winner.
“We had never won a tournament before,” said Sneed. “We were truly blessed to get the bite.”
The Kingfish Cup is the brainchild of the McMullan family, owners of Ocean Isle Fishing Center (OIFC) in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., and is comprised of four king mackerel tournaments — two at the OIFC, one at Little River and one at Carolina Beach, N.C.
Boats competing in the Kingfish Cup combined the total weight of three of their four biggest kings caught in the four tournaments, and received a point per pound, with 31 qualifying for the Kingfish Cup championship.
One McMullan entry finished in second place, as Capt. Brant McMullan, his wife Amy and 9-year-old son Brayden brought in kings weighing 42 and 24 pounds for a 67-pound aggregate.
After encountering wahoo, blackfin tuna and sharks in 76-degree water in an area 15 miles off Capt Hatteras, Brant McMullan quickly decided to head back in.
Five miles inshore in 73-degree water, the family trio landed their two kings, with Amy and Brayden serving as anglers.
After years of fishing professionally, especially with his brother, Barrett, and having the “newness” wear off, Brant McMullan has found new enjoyment while competing with his family.
“It has become much more fun and more of an accomplishment when we can have success with our kids,” said Brant McMullan. “You’ve got teams out there with a bunch of full grown men. I kind of like the underdog status and the wife and kids (including 13-year-old Caroline) are into it.
“Everybody contributes. nobody sleeps in the bean bag anymore. I’m very proud of that fact.”
Team Rasta Rocket finished third with a 64-pound aggregate after weighing in kings weighing 34 and 30 pounds. The team won $25,740.
Team Breaking Bad finished fourth with a 59-pound aggregate, including a 34-pound king. The team won $25,362.
For more information on the series and the championship, visit www.kingfishcup.com and join the email list.
Last Saturday marked the second of six events in the 2018-19 Student Angler League Tournament Trail out of the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.
SALTT features divisions for red drum and largemouth bass, with middle and high school anglers competing against each other.
Once again, the anglers were met with windy weather thanks to a strong cold front that rolled through the night before.
Still, the anglers brought quality fish and limits to the weigh-in at the complex located on the Sampit River.
Dylan Skipper and Walker McKenzie of Andrews won the High School Redfish Division with a two-fish limit of 8.58 pounds, including the big fish in the division, a 4.69-pounder. Noah Payne and Kadyn Kellahan of Andrews finished second with 5.22 pounds, followed by Christa Edmonds of Carolina Forest in third with 3.51 pounds.
Devan Harrelson and Carson Watford of Georgetown Middle School won the Middle School Redfish Division with two-fish weighing 5.15 pounds, including the 3.36-pound big fish in the division. Donovan Harris of Conway Middle School and Wyatt Moore of Whittemore Park Middle School were second with 4.02 pounds.
Conway’s Austin Winburn and Chandler Brown had a five-fish aggregate of 10.59 pounds to win the High School Bass Division. Avery Williams of St. James finished second with 9.10 pounds including the big bass of the division, a 2.60-pounder. Andrew Ackerman and Jeremy Owens of Georgetown were third with 7.99 pounds.
Gavin Porter of Loris Middle School fished solo and won the Middle School Bass Division with a five-fish limit of 7.53-pounds, plus caught the big bass of the division, a 3.02-pounder. Mason Hardee and Will Hardee-McGuirt of Conway Middle School were second with 2.33 pounds. Rosemary Middle School’s Allie Newton was third with 2.02 pounds.
The third tournament in the series will be held Dec. 1, also at the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex.
Brayden McMullan and his dad, Capt. Brant McMullan, show off a 42-pound king mackerel Sunday during The Kingfish Cup off Ocracoke, N.C. Photo courtesy www.OIFC.com
Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters shows off a huge hogfish caught on Wednesday during an offshore trip out of Murrells Inlet. Submitted photo
Grand Strand Fishing Report: “Bait-stealing critters” lingering with warm water temps
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
November 08, 2018 05:51 PM
Updated November 08, 2018 06:10 PM
Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: It’s just a little warm for early November, says Capt. Dan Connolly of O-Fish-Al Expeditions in Murrells Inlet, although colder weather is on the way. Connolly has noted a water temperature in the upper 60s, when lower 60s would be considered closer to normal. “It’s been a little strange for this time of year,” said Connolly. “It’s a higher water temperature than normal, and that’s keeping the bait-stealing critters around.” That has also kept more finger mullet around than usual, and that’s good news. “If you want to catch an inshore slam of nice keepers, getting your hands on some live finger mullet is the way to go,” Connolly said. On a Wednesday trip, Connolly’s crew used mullet to catch several trout, flounder and two upper slot red drum, plus used a combination of shrimp and fiddler crabs to catch four keepers out of eight black drum. Connolly notes that floating live shrimp will also produce fish, especially trout. “With live shrimp on a float, you’ll catch 90 percent dinks and 10 percent keepers,” said Connolly. Artificials such as Z-Man paddle tail Swimbaits, Vudu shrimp, DOA shrimp and Trout Trick will also work for trout.
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, red drum, bluefish, spadefish, sheepshead, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.
inRead invented by Teads
Comments: King mackerel action has slowed near the beach except, perhaps, a few large loner kings. Capt. Perrin Wood of Southern Saltwater Charters recommends heading to live-bottom areas and ledges in 50-60 feet of water to find schooling kings. The water temperature is about to take a major plunge in the next week, meaning action for black sea bass (13-inch minimum size limit ) will be good on bottom spots from three to 15 miles out in 30-50 feet of water. Near-shore bottom spots are holding weakfish, whiting, flounder and perhaps bull red drum. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports a good run of spots occurred on the pier from Friday through Sunday, with most of the fish being small. Apache Pier also reported a spot run last weekend. The piers are producing a mix of whiting, pompano, black drum, red drum, flounder, bluefish and a few Spanish mackerel. Wallace reported a water temperature of 69 degrees Thursday afternoon.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, dolphin, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: Capt. Danny Carey of Careyon Charters headed offshore in his 30-foot Sea Hunt on Wednesday with wahoo on the brain. Carey tried high-speed trolling and meat trolling, but didn’t get a wahoo bite in the vicinity of the Georgetown Hole in 75-degree water. Carey and crew did land six blackfin tuna. “The water is still on the dirty side out there,” said Carey. “That water’s got to get bluer.” Carey and crew did hit the bottom and had a very good catch of standard reef species such as vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish and porgy. The highlight of the day was four hogfish, including a huge 19-pounder that hit a secret bait. They also caught three red snapper, including one in the 15-pound range. Of course, red snapper cannot be harvested in the South Atlantic Region and must be released.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: After the worst flooding in the history of the Waccamaw River, there are finally signs of life. “We’re starting to see a little life – bream, crappie, bass and catfish,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle. The lower end of the Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers, in the Ricefields vicinity, has produced some fish this week. Anglers are urged to limit the number of fish harvested until the full extent of the fish kill caused by Hurricane Florence’s flooding can be determined. Further upstream, the situation is dire. Stalvey noted a bass tournament was held on the Waccamaw River in the Conway vicinity and there were no bass caught by the field. “Nobody’s fishing up there on the Waccamaw near Conway,” said Stalvey. The Waccamaw was at 8.61 feet at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Conway and making good tides. The Little Pee Dee River was still high, at 7.67 feet at 4 p.m. Thursday at Galivants Ferry.
Dan Mason and Mark Hewett of Gone Again display the winning 40.45-pound king mackerel in the Fall Brawl out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., on Sunday. Submitted photo
‘We had to run her down twice’: How this crew hauled in a large king, double victory
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
November 02, 2018 04:48 PM
Updated November 02, 2018 04:48 PM
After a quick catch and run back to the weigh-in station, Dan Mason and Mark Hewett were gone again aboard Mason’s 25-foot Contender, Gone Again, early Sunday on the final day of fishing in the Ocean Isle Fishing Center’s Fall Brawl King Mackerel Tournament.
The duo caught a medium-size king mackerel around 10 a.m. just a few miles off the beach near the Shallotte Ledge, and decided to run in and cash in on the Speedy King award, $500 given to the first boat to weigh in a king on the day.
After earning the $500 with a 14.40-pounder, they headed back out to the ledge to continue slow-trolling menhaden in hopes of hooking up with a smoker king.
At that point, the 14.40-pounder was also leading the tournament, as only 10 boats of the 161-boat field had fished on Saturday, the first day of fishing in the tournament, with only one fish weighed in.
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That afternoon, their wish came true when the medium long line went off. The duo immediately knew they had a good fish.
“She pretty much spooled us,” said Mason. “We had to turn the boat and go after her pretty quick. We had to run her down twice. We had to go chase that 400 yards of line twice.”
Hewett, the fire chief of the Civietown Fire Department, served as angler and battled the fish for nearly 30 minutes through the two runs before Mason left the wheel to apply the gaff and pull it into the boat.
“There was a lot of whooping and hollering and hugging for sure,” said Mason. “Everybody around us knew we had a good one. There were probably 15-20 boats around us.”
After another quick run to the OIFC, Mason and Hewett saw they were still atop the leaderboard. They promptly knocked themselves out of first place with the 40.45-pounder.
As the weigh-in wore on through the afternoon, the duo from Supply, N.C., remained in first place and went home the winners.
For Brent Gainey and crew aboard Miller Time, it was nearly back-to-back victories in king tournaments on both sides of the Carolina state line.
The previous weekend, Miller Time won the Rumble in the Jungle King Mackerel Tournament out of Little River with a 43.8-pound king caught offshore of the Apache Pier.
This time, the Miller Time crew headed south again and landed a 38.35-pound king, just 2.10 pounds behind Gone Again’s winning fish and good for second place.
“We got close, but I was tickled to death to finish second,” said Gainey. “We had a couple of fortunate weekends in a row. The good Lord was looking out for us I reckon.”
Gainey and a three-man crew including his dad, Randy, ran all the way to just south of Murrells Inlet to catch bait and settled in on a hard-bottom area just offshore of Garden City Beach to slow-troll the menhaden.
“We caught a 20-pounder and there wasn’t much action on the radio, so that solidified that we needed to stay there,” said Gainey. “We found a little spot a little further offshore and had a doubleheader.”
Jason McDowell and Ryan Wiggins grabbed the rods, and the chaos ensued. McDowell worked his fish to the boat first and a 25-pound class king came aboard.
A few minutes later, Wiggins worked his fish close to the boat, but the water clarity remained poor that close to the beach.
“We never got a look at it until it was 15 feet from the boat,” said Gainey. “I saw it and said ‘That’s the one we we’re looking for right there.’ We got her in the boat and we were happy as we could be.”
The first- and second-place finishes in the two tournaments left the Miller Time team in first place in the Kingfish Cup, a series of four area tournaments organized by the McMullan family of the OIFC.
The Gaineys and company are the team to beat, essentially the No. 1 seed, in the Kingfish Cup championship, which is currently being plagued by the latest cold front in Ocracoke, N.C.
The championship was originally scheduled to be a two-day event, Friday and Saturday, with each competing team able to weigh their largest king mackerel each day for a two-fish aggregate.
Capt. Brant McMullan, contacted Thursday afternoon, said the event is on hold and will now have a one-day, two-fish format.
“Sunday or Monday seems most likely,” said McMullan.
For more information, visit www.OIFC.com and www.KingfishCup.com.
The 2nd Annual Perry’s Benefit will be staged at Perry’s Bait and Tackle in Murrells Inlet on Nov. 10.
The proceeds of the event will be split between the Family Justice Center of Horry and Georgetown County and Jessica Hill-Doehner’s reef fund.
The event, scheduled for 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., will feature barbecue provided by Smokin’ Sumthin’ BBQ, live music, a silent auction featuring donated charter fishing trips, and raffle tickets.
Guest speakers will include Sen. Stephen Goldfinch and Vicki Bourus, Co-Executive Director of the Family Justice Center.
The stated goals of the benefit are to support victims of domestic violence and establish an artificial reef off Murrells Inlet to honor the late Hill-Doehner.
Donations also can be made at Perry’s Bait and Tackle, located at 3965 Hwy. 17 Business, Murrells Inlet, SC, 29576. Call 843-651-2896 for more information.