Gaston and Tolly Hughes of Wilmington, N.C., of Team Grip Flip show off the second-place king mackerel in the Fall Brawl King Classic. Submitted photo
Wilmington brothers have breakthrough in back-to-back fishing events to remember
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
October 27, 2017 3:36 PM
Brothers Gaston and Tolly Hughes of Wilmington, N.C., and Team Grip Flip have done plenty of king mackerel fishing over the years in the waters between Little River Inlet and North Carolina’s Cape Fear, but they’ll be hard-pressed to top the back-to-back weekends they had this October.
The Hughes brothers started off by fishing in the Yellowfin/Yamaha Fall Brawl King Classic held on Oct. 14-15 out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center on Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., part of a field of 285 boats.
Austin Eubank and his crew aboard Clearly Hooked won the tournament with a 45.60-pound king, with the Hughes duo finishing a close second with a 44.0-pounder.
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A week later, on Oct. 21-22, the Hughes boated and weighed in a 47.85-pound smoker king to win the Sportsman’s Choice Contender/Yamaha Rumble in the Jungle King Mackerel Tournament out of Capt. Archie’s Bar and Grill in North Myrtle Beach over a field of 215 boats.
That’s a first-place and a runner-up finish in two major king tournaments over a span of eight days for the brothers, Gaston, age 62 and Tolly, age 63, who earned over $80,000 for the two events.
The brothers started fishing the Cape Fear vicinity as youngsters and have over 50 years fishing experience in the area, including 20 years of competitive king mackerel tournament fishing.
“We’ve been fishing a long time and that’s the first tournament we’ve won,” said Gaston Hughes. “It’s just pretty incredible, amazing, back-to-back like that.”
In the Fall Brawl, the Hughes brothers took the lead on Saturday with their 44.0-pounder but had to sit on the hill and wait while the rest of the huge field fished on Sunday. Teams were allowed to fish one of the two days.
Eubank and his Clearly Hooked crew weighed in the winning 45.60-pounder on Sunday to win the tournament, knocking the Hughes back to second place. Eubank won the Fall Brawl for the second time, having won the event in 2014 with a 39.65-pounder.
With one tournament down and one to go, the brothers didn’t want another runner-up finish.
“We’ve got three (second-place finishes),” said Gaston Hughes. “I didn’t want another second.”
After having the rug pulled out from under them on the final day of fishing in the Fall Brawl, they decided to fish on the second day of fishing – last Sunday – in the Rumble in the Jungle.
The duo headed out to the same area that produced the 44-pounder in the Fall Brawl – Lighthouse Rocks, an area located adjacent to the Cape Fear River Channel and renowned for holding big kings during the fall.
The Hughes were slow-trolling menhaden in their 23-foot Contender Tournament series center-console, powered by a single 225 Yamaha, amid numerous other boats.
“We were trolling around and the first fish we caught was the big one,” said Gaston Hughes. “It hit a menhaden on a long flat line, and made a long run. It switched directions and we thought we had lost it.”
The fish ran toward other boats, including one that was also hooked up and another that was anchored. With Tolly Hughes on the rod and Gaston Hughes at the helm, the duo made it through the gauntlet of boats.
Gaston Hughes gaffed the fish and together they pulled the huge king into the boat. This time the 47.85-pounder made it through the weigh-in and Team Grip Flip finally had its first victory.
The team is named after a de-hooking product (www.gripflip.net) that Gaston Hughes designed and patented in 2014, after his brother had gotten hooked three times while releasing king mackerel.
“I gave away (over 400) Grip Flips,” said Hughes. “Maybe the fish gods are looking out for me for doing something good for the fish. I know there’s a lot of luck in it, but if you’re where the big fish (in a tournament) is caught you’ve done a good job of fishing in the right spot.”
Bruce Martin and Donna Gurganus aboard Ante Up finished second in the Rumble in the Jungle with a 44.20-pound king. Gurganus was the angler on the fish, her largest king.
For more results from the tournaments, visit www.OIFC.com and www.rumblekmt.com.
Both tournaments were part of the inaugural Kingfish Cup series, which concluded a series of four tournaments with the Rumble in the Jungle.
The 25 teams that compiled the highest three-fish point total in the tournaments received an invitation to compete in the Kingfish Cup Championship event, which is set for Nov. 9-12 at Ocracoke Island, N.C.
Also, any team that wins first place in any of the four qualifying tournaments qualifies for the championship. Visit www.KingfishCup.com for more information.
Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout
Jamie and Trey Tyner aboard Steel Reelin’ claimed first place in the one-day tournament held Oct. 14 out of Marlin Quay Marina in Murrells Inlet with a 44.87-pound king.
Visit the Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout page on Facebook for more information on the tournament, which featured a field of 50 boats and was the final event in the Southern Kingfish Association’s Division 3 (South Carolina).
Next up on the SKA schedule is the SKA National Championship this weekend in Biloxi, Miss. For more information, visit www.fishska.com.
The final tournament on the fall schedule for the Student Angler League Tournament Trail was held on Oct. 14 in Georgetown with a record 34 boats competing.
Conway Middle School’s Ashton Rouhselang and Lance Cooper took the top honors in the Red Drum Division with 7.71 pounds. Second place went to Conway High School’s Eli Johnson with 7.21 pounds, plus the Big Fish Award of 4.38 pounds. Blake Rimmer of Andrews High School took third place with 5.45 pounds.
Marshall Sasser of Georgetown High School placed first in the Bass Division with 10.42 pounds followed by Will Hucks of Conway Christian School in second with 9.23 pounds. Hucks also won the Big Fish Award with a 3.94-pounder. Andrew Ackerman and Jeremy Owens of Georgetown High were third with 8.85 pounds.
The next SALTT event will be held Feb. 17, 2018. Students can still register for events on the SALTT trail. For more information, visit www.salttfishing.com.
Inshore Slam and Festival
This inaugural event targeting spotted seatrout, red drum and flounder will be held Nov. 4 out of Cricket Cove Marina.
The Captains Meeting is set for 6 p.m. also at Cricket Cove Marina.
The event is hosted by Little River South Carolina River Sweep, Palmetto Kids Fishing Camps and Captain Smiley Fishing Charters.
Visit www.CaptainSmileyInshoreSlam.com for more information.
Gaston and Tolly Hughes of Wilmington, N.C., of Team Grip Flip celebrate winning the Rumble in the Jungle King Mackerel Tournament on Sunday. Submitted photo
Prime time to catch and release bull red drum is here along the Carolina coast. The Sun News file photo
Inshore, offshore fishing heating up and it’s prime time to catch bull red drum
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
October 26, 2017 3:20 PM
Look For: Red drum, spotted seatrout, black drum, flounder, sheepshead, spots.
Comments: Prime time to catch and release bull red drum is here along the Carolina coast, with fish being found around area jetties, channels of inlets and on near-shore hard-bottom areas in the Atlantic Ocean. Capt. Mike McDonald of Gul-R-Boy Guide Service in Georgetown released six bull reds in the 40-44 inch range on Sunday, using cut mullet, while fishing the channel in Winyah Bay. Capt. Patrick Kelly of Capt. Smiley Fishing Charters has found the reds in the vicinity of the jetties and the channel of Little River Inlet this week, using live menhaden (pogeys) for bait. As McDonald said, “There’s a lot of pressure on these fish now.” Anglers are urged to catch the bull reds quickly with beefed-up tackle and release them carefully, being sure they are revived before letting them go. South Carolina’s slot limit on red drum is 15 to 23 inches. McDonald also notes he’s been catching 10-15 spotted seatrout per trip on plastic grubs with 1/8- or 1/4-ounce jig heads. Kelly has also headed for the creeks and caught trout, flounder and smaller reds, floating live shrimp for the trout and using finger mullet for reds and flounder. Ronald “Catfish” Stalvey of Stalvey’s Bait and Tackle in Conway reports spots have been hit or miss in area inlets. “I’ve been hearing of a few limits being caught, sometimes 20-30, sometimes a dozen or so,” said Stalvey of the popular panfish. “They haven’t been pushed down yet, but the ones caught are very good-sized spots.”
Look For: Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, bluefish, black sea bass, weakfish, flounder, whiting, croaker, pompano, black drum, sheepshead and red drum.
Comments: The finest pier and surf fishing the calendar year offers is here along the Grand Strand and will be in the offing through November. Whiting, croaker and spots are the main species being landed off the piers, along with pompano, flounder, blues and the occasional bull red drum. Spot action has also been hit or miss off the piers, reports Michael Wallace of Cherry Grove Pier. “We had a decent run of about 15 minutes on Tuesday,” said Wallace, “but it’s been off or on as far as the spots.” After a chilly overnight, Wallace noted a water temperature reading of 71 degrees Thursday morning at both the surface and bottom. Find a school of menhaden along the beach and look for bull reds feeding under the school, with king and Spanish mackerel also around. The near-shore hard-bottom areas are producing good catches of weakfish, black sea bass, whiting and bull reds. The artificial reefs are producing weakfish, black sea bass and flounder, with plenty of Spanish and king mackerel in the vicinity.
Look For: Wahoo, blackfin tuna, dolphin, grouper, vermilion snapper, triggerfish, red porgy, black sea bass, amberjack.
Comments: Bottom fishing has been superb this week with tranquil seas offering boats ample opportunity to to get offshore to catch vermilion snapper, black sea bass, triggerfish, porgy, grouper and amberjack. Anglers should remember cobia cannot be harvested in 2017 in South Carolina waters (to three miles offshore) or federal waters (beyond three miles) and must be released. Also, red snapper must be released in the South Atlantic region. King mackerel action is good in depths of 50-90 feet of water. Further offshore wahoo and blackfin tuna action is good for trolling boats.
Marc Treurniet of Southport, N.C., holds the winning 49.75-pound king mackerel in the 2017 U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament out of Southport Marina. Photo courtesy Marc Treurniet
The smaller the boat, the bigger the fish – in this case, anyway
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
October 13, 2017 6:01 PM
A small crew on a small boat, fishing among an armada of boats, pulled out the victory last Saturday in the 2017 U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament out of Southport Marina in Southport, N.C.
Marc Treurniet and Nick Evans of Southport teamed together aboard Keep It Reel to land a 49.75-pound king to win the tournament over a whopping field of 471 boats.
Treurniet and Evans, fishing aboard Treurniet’s 25-foot Contender powered by twin 150 Yamahas, hooked up with the smoker king while fishing the Cape Fear River shipping channel on Saturday to earn the $25,000 first-place prize.
“It’s fantastic to catch a fish like that, and within a tournament too,” said Treurniet, who was the angler on the king, the largest he’s ever caught. “The experience, it’s unique. Just phenomenal.”
Nautley Crew of Mooresville N.C., led by Casey Forester, finished second with a king weighing 43.85 pounds. Rounding out the top five were Salt Therapy of Oak Island, N.C. (41.85 pounds), Capt. Boo Boo of Southport (41.70) and Fish Dix of Pinehurst, N.C. (41.05).
The grade of kings caught in the tournament was superb, with six weighing over 40 pounds and 24 over 35 pounds.
“The fish were close to shore so in this tournament it was a level playing field,” said Treurniet. “Everybody had a shot at it. The fish were in between 30 and 50 feet of water, that’s really where the bite was.”
Boats were allowed to fish two days (Friday and Saturday), and Treurniet and Evans were not able to catch menhaden (pogeys) big enough for their liking on the first day of fishing.
“On day one, we didn’t quite get it done but we lost a big fish,” said Treurniet. “We knew they were out there.”
On day two, Treurniet and Evans were able to net larger pogeys and started to slow-troll them in the river channel with approximately 100 boats in the vicinity.
“The fish hit the long line,” said Treurniet. “We had just caught a fish and were switching baits. The fish spooled me about two-thirds down, and I knew ‘This is showtime right now.’
“We chased it down and when she saw the boat, she made another run half that distance.”
At 10:01 a.m., after a 25-minute fight, Evans gaffed the fish and pulled it into the boat.
Treurniet is a native of the Netherlands who moved to the U.S. in 2002 and soon teamed up with Evans, an experienced local angler from Southport, aboard Keep It Reel. In a huge tournament with many crews consisting of 4-6 anglers, the duo did just fine.
“We spend a lot of time on the water together and try to keep a good routine,” said Treurniet. “You’ve got to be able to communicate real well. It’s the small things – if you don’t communicate well and you’re not clear about things, then things go wrong. The team dynamic is pretty important.”
Keep It Reel finished sixth in the 2015 U.S. Open with a 34.05-pound king.
The second-place boat, Nautley Crew, and fourth-place boat, Capt. Boo Boo, took advantage of the tournament-within-a-tournament (TWT) levels to take home large earnings. Capt. Boo Boo won a total of $71,495 while Nautley Crew won $59,789.
Let ‘Em Go, Win The Dough
A unique all-release flounder tournament in Murrells Inlet is in the books and by all accounts was a rousing success.
Local angler Peter Gerace caught and subsequently released a 4.32-pound flounder last Saturday to win the inaugural event that was the brainchild of another local angler, Mike Brady.
The event featured hourly winners and overall winners, with all fish released. Any fish weighed in had to be released alive in order for it to qualify for prizes.
After a windy, then rainy start, the weather turned better for Gerace, who fished the afternoon with his girlfriend, Michelle Urban Chudzinski.
“It was like three days in one,” said Gerace. “At the beginning it was 15-20 out of the northeast and cloudy, then it was pouring rain in the middle of the day and at the end of the day it was 10-15 out of the southeast.”
Late in the afternoon, action picked up as Gerace expected.
“It was looking a little dismal at 3 p.m. but I was in a real fishy spot with lots of swirly currents,” said Gerace.
Asked where he caught the fish, the north or south side of the inlet, Gerace said, with a laugh, “The central side.”
After losing a decent fish, Gerace noted he changed to a jig head he had purchased from the late Jessica Hill at Perry’s Bait and Tackle.
“I said ‘C’mon, Jessica,’ and on that cast I caught the big one,” said Gerace. “I thought it was a stingray at first, but I was at a spot I knew there were fish. Then I saw that tail.”
Chudzinski netted the flounder and the celebration began.
“I knew it was the winner when it hit the deck,” said Gerace.
Gerace’s fish was the 4 p.m. hourly winner but he survived a close call to win the tournament when his friend, Doug Edwards, weighed in a 4.28-pounder for the 5 p.m. hourly winner.
“My buddy Dougy, he’s a great fisherman and I can’t believe I beat him,” said Gerace. “He’s mad, but in a loving kind of way.”
Gerace was glad to see the release format of the tournament.
“I loved that it’s a catch-and-release tournament, loved the hourly weigh-ins and hourly winners,” said Gerace. “I think it’s just going to get better and better from here. The only thing better than catching a tournament-winning fish is being able to release it.”
Brady noted 50 anglers competed in the tournament, with over 40 flounder weighed in and released.
The hourly winners were:
▪ 9 a.m.: no fish weighed.
▪ 10 a.m.: Charles Beverly 2.34 pounds.
▪ 11 a.m.: Tamara “Paige” Lewis, 2.34.
▪ Noon: Mike Schirra, .95.
▪ 1 p.m.: Jeff Heise, 2.80.
▪ 2 p.m.: Charles Beverly, 2.94.
▪ 3 p.m.: Englis Glover, 2.20.
▪ 4 p.m.: Pete Gerace, 4.32.
▪ 5 p.m.: Doug Edwards, 4.28.
The top finishers were:
▪ 1st place: Pete Gerace, 4.32.
▪ 2nd place: Doug Edwards, 4.28.
▪ 3rd place: Charles Beverly, 2.94.
▪ 4th place: Jeff Heise, 2.80.
▪ 5th place: Englis Glover, 2.76.
▪ 6th place: Charles Beverly, 2.34.
▪ 7th place: Paige Lewis, 2.34.
▪ 8th place: Charles Beverly, 2.34.
▪ 9th place: George Smart, 2.23.
▪ 10th place: Fred Webb, 2.20.
Peter Gerace of Murrells Inlet shows off the winning 4.32-pound flounder before releasing it in the inaugural Let ‘Em Go, Win The Dough flounder tournament last Saturday. Submitted photo