Kevin Vaughan, Alex Hull and Ryan Watson of Surf City, N.C., show off their tournament-best 60.22-pound king mackerel, caught in the Southern Kingfish Association’s National Championship Saturday in Morehead City, N.C. Photo courtesy of SKA
Two members down, this crew hauled in winning fish despite lengthy, vigorous fight
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
November 16, 2018 04:25 PM
Updated November 16, 2018 04:25 PM
The Stormy Gale Fishing Team started the Southern Kingfish Association’s National Championship at Morehead City, N.C., with four crew members, but by Saturday, the final day of fishing, was down to two.
On the first day of fishing, David Hull injured his back and Ryan Watson his ankle when the custom-built 29-foot Egret hit a rogue wave crossing the Cape Lookout shoals.
That left David Hull’s son, 22-year-old Alex Hull, and Kevin Vaughan to navigate the final day, amid rough seas that caused numerous problems for the field of 84 boats fishing in the 17th annual event’s Open Class.
Hull and Vaughan came through in a big way, landing a huge 60.22-pound king to go with a 32.25-pounder for a winning 92.47-pound aggregate, earning the team $95,000 in prize money.
“We’re just really blessed to get the one we were looking for,” said Alex Hull, of Surf City, N.C. “We were overjoyed. It’s something a lot of guys have fished SKA for a long time and have never done it. This is our sixth year. We were pretty ecstatic about it.”
Carolina Kings finished second with an 87.59-pound aggregate including a 50.93-pounder, Logan’s Run was third with an 83.89-pound aggregate including a 49.74-pounder and My Hooker was fourth with a 78.67-pound aggregate including a 59.25-pounder.
With their two teammates sitting the day out, Alex Hull and Vaughan headed to a live-bottom area about three miles southeast of Ocracoke Inlet where the team had caught a 52-pounder in a preliminary tournament earlier in the week.
After putting lines in at 8 a.m., Hull and Vaughan got the big bite first, with the smoker king hitting a bluefish on a Bluewater Candy skirt right behind the boat.
“The 60-pound fish hit first, skied on the prop wash bait,” said Alex Hull. ”It was something. I can’t get that picture out of my head. We knew it was a good fish.”
The hookup quickly got complicated, though.
“When (the fish) hit the water, he took off straight toward boat and got the line wrapped in the prop,” said Hull. “Luckily that motor was already shut off. (The fish) was still burning the line down.”
Hull and Vaughan raised the motor, spun the prop by hand to free the line and, somehow, the fish was still hooked up.
They chased the fish down with Hull serving as the angler and Vaughan at the helm.
“After fighting for 30 minutes we were able to get to him,” said Hull. “Kevin had a perfect gaff shot on the shoulders.”
Once the fish was in the boat, the duo noticed it was barely hooked.
“It was only hanging on by one treble (hook) in the gill plate,” said Hull. “The other treble had completely broken off. I honestly don’t know how we wound up getting that fish.”
All this happened amid horrible weather and sea conditions.
“It’s pouring rain and blowing while this is going on, (which made) it even more interesting,” said Hull. “I’ve had a nasty cough for the last few days but it paid off.”
Hull and Vaughan drifted over the same spot and caught the 32.25-pounder to complete their winning aggregate.
The Black Pearl, a 25-foot Hydra Sports, won the Small Boat Class with a 46.35-pound aggregate. Dirty South, a 21-foot Kencraft, won the Single Engine Class with a 41.58-pound aggregate.
For more information, visit www.fishska.com.
Capt. Roger Wahoo Challenge
The Ocean Isle Fishing Center is staging a wahoo tournament in honor of Capt. Roger Gales, who passed away Oct. 18 at the age of 48.
A portion of the tournament’s proceeds will be donated to the Capt. Roger Legacy Fund, benefiting his family.
Eligible fishing days are Nov. 23 through Dec. 31, and teams may fish up to two days during that stretch.
For more information, call 910-575-3474 or visit www.OIFC.com.
Alex Hull and Kevin Vaughan of Surf City, N.C., show off their winning king mackerel, including a tournament-best 60.22-pounder, in the Southern Kingfish Association’s National Championship Saturday in Morehead City, N.C. Photo courtesy of SKA
Charlie Nash of Garden City Beach shows off a black sea bass caught on a live-bottom area just offshore of Myrtle Beach. As the water cools in autumn, keeper black sea bass above the 13-inch minimum size limit move into shallower water. Gregg Holshouser For The Sun News
Grand Strand Fishing Report: The prime season for spotted seatrout has arrived
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
November 15, 2018 05:51 PM
Updated November 15, 2018 05:51 PM
Look For: Spotted seatrout, black drum, red drum, flounder, sheepshead.
Comments: It is prime season for spotted seatrout, also known as winter trout or speckled trout, and the consensus is there are plenty of fish available from Georgetown to Brunswick County, N.C. The consensus is also that the majority of the fish being caught are under the 14-inch minimum size limit which applies to North and South Carolina. “There are lots of small trout around,” said Capt. Patrick Kelly of Captain Smiley Fishing Charters in Little River. “We’re starting to catch some keepers, but most trout are 13 3/4 inches.” There are also plenty of red drum around, plus black drum and flounder. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown headed down the Intracoastal Waterway south of Winyah Bay and found plenty of fish on a trip early this week. McDonald’s crew caught over 40 trout ranging from 8 to 19 inches in length, with 15 kept for table fare. The group also caught over 20 reds, most on the lower end of South Carolina’s slot limit of 15-23 inches. McDonald used artificial grubs to catch the trout and cut shrimp for the reds. Some of the artificials Kelly used to catch trout included Berkeley Gulp shrimp (white with chartreuse tails) and Vudu shrimp (Cajun Pepper). “With trout, there’s gotta be current,” said Kelly, who noted a water temperature of 62 degrees early in the week. “If the tide’s running good, they’ll be there. Fishing’s really good. If you want to get out there and get your line tight, now’s a really good time to go.”
Look For: King mackerel, Spanish mackerel, red drum, bluefish, spadefish, sheepshead, black sea bass, flounder, weakfish, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum.
Comments: The water temperature has dropped below the 65-degree mark, and king mackerel won’t be available in the near-shore waters much longer. For now, head out to spots in depths of 40-60 feet such as The Jungle, Belky Bear or Buoy City to find kings. “It’s been so nasty and rough,” said Capt. Jeff Maples of Reel Salty Fishing Charters in Murrells Inlet. “I’d start at the Bear and then work on out.” The coolest weather of the autumn has arrived, and so have larger black sea bass on bottom spots from 3-15 miles out in 30-50 feet of water. Also don’t be surprised to find some keeper black sea bass at or above the 13-inch minimum size limit on near-shore hard-bottom areas, which are holding weakfish and flounder too. Look for sheepshead to begin showing up on near-shore artificial reefs soon. Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier reports a small run of spots on Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. Otherwise, Grand Strand piers have been producing scattered catches of whiting, croaker, black drum, weakfish and spots. Wallace noted a water temperature of 64 degrees Wednesday afternoon, and dropping.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, king mackerel, dolphin, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, grunts, porgy, amberjack, grouper.
Comments: It’s been a sloppy week in the offshore waters, including a gale warning on Thursday. Seas look fishable for Saturday and Sunday, and wahoo is the prime target for trolling action during autumn. Blackfin tuna are also available and king mackerel a possibility. Bottom fishing is excellent for grouper, vermilion snapper, black sea bass, grey triggerfish, amberjack, red porgy and grunts. Red snapper are common on the offshore reefs and ledges, but must be released indefinitely in the South Atlantic Region.
Look For: Bream, bass, catfish, crappie.
Comments: The lower Waccamaw River is the place to be for anglers looking for bream, bass and crappie, from Bucksport to points further south. “The one location I would go to is the Ricefields,” said Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway. For bass, Stalvey suggests working outer curves and well into ditch mouths. Both Pee Dee rivers are on the rise, and fishing is tough. The Little Pee Dee at Galivants Ferry was at 8.08 feet Thursday at 4 p.m. and was projected to rise into minor flood stage by Sunday. The Pee Dee at Pee Dee, located between Marion and Florence, was at 19 feet Thursday at 4 p.m. and was expected to rise into moderate flood stage.
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