Husband, wife team up to land tournament-best king mackerel
By Gregg Holshouser
For The Sun News
With the north wind howling on the heels of the first real cold front of the autumn, the husband-wife fishing team of Jeff and Michelle Drake kept it close to the beach in the Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout.
The duo, fishing out of Little River aboard The Law, a 34-foot Fountain, hit three near-shore spots and caught only one king mackerel, but it was the right one.
The Drakes weighed in a 35.87-pounder to win the tournament, the first-ever Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned event held out of Marlin Quay Marina in Murrells Inlet.
Thanks to the cold front and related windy conditions, the tournament format was changed to Captain’s Choice, with boats allowed to fish last Saturday or Sunday.
The Drakes, both sporting a 100-ton Captain’s License, started their fishing day on Sunday by catching menhaden near Little River and first headed to the Ocean Crest Pier vicinity just off Oak Island, N.C.
“We fished with the masses at Ocean Crest Pier, and we caught nothing,” said Michelle Drake, the owner-operator of Getaway Adventures, Inc., in Little River.
Later, they moved southwest to near the Cherry Grove Pier.
“The water was green, pretty and we fished just east of the pier,” Michelle Drake said. “We were fishing in the pogy pods, and the fish hit. Jeff grabbed the rod, which left me to do the clean-up work.”
The hook-up happened at about 12:30 p.m., and from there, it was husband-wife fishing action at its finest.
“He was yelling at me [that] I wasn’t clearing lines fast enough, just a great husband-and-wife relationship,” Michelle Drake said. “I had the gaff out, and he told me to wait, wait and I didn’t think I needed to wait. He thought I did. I took a shot with the gaff.
“It’s all fun and games except when you’ve got a 36-pound king on.”
Michelle Drake pulled the gaff straight up, connecting with the king and the rub rail.
“We had a little Chinese fire drill going there,” Michelle Drake said.
Once they got the fish in the boat, Michelle Drake guessed at the weight.
“Honest to God if someone had put a gun to my head, I wouldn’t have said that fish weighed more than 31 pounds,” Michelle Drake said.
With a fish aboard to weigh in, the Drakes capped the day by fishing a spot closer to Murrells Inlet – Myrtle Beach Rocks – but caught only a dogfish there.
At the weigh-in at Marlin Quay Marina, Michelle Drake was thrilled to find out her estimated weight was low when the fish went to the top of the leaderboard at about 3:30 p.m. Later, they were declared the winners of the final SKA Division 3 tournament of the season.
“It was one of those things, it’s a rare occasion when Jeff and I get to fish together, and to pull the win makes it even more special,” Michelle Drake said.
The Drakes earned $11,800 for the victory over the field of 60 boats.
“That pays for the year of fishing, right there,” Michelle Drake said.
Raunchie Conch finished a very close second, only about a quarter-pound behind with a 35.63-pound king.
Scale Bound finished third with a 31.94-pounder, Fin Chaser was fourth with a 30.75-pounder and Game Hawg fifth with a 27.88-pounder.
With the 2016 SKA Nationals, set for Nov. 8-13 in Ft. Pierce, Fla., on the horizon, there is one more local SKA-sanctioned tournament underway this weekend.
The Fall Brawl King Classic out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center features fishing Saturday and Sunday, Captains Choice, with boats able to fish one of the days.
Weigh-ins are 2-5 p.m. both days. Both weigh ins will be broadcast live on-line at www.OIFC.com. For more information, call (910) 575-3474.
Read more here: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/sports/outdoors/article111152607.html#storylink=cpy