New fishing tour formed on S.C. coast as future of Southern Kingfish Association unclear
By Gregg Holshouser
February 01, 2019 05:05 PM
With the future of the Southern Kingfish Association in doubt, another regional king mackerel tournament series is in the works, this one right here along the Palmetto State coast.
The operators of four tournaments from Murrells Inlet to Charleston have teamed to form the Palmetto Kingfish Tour, which will have its inaugural run later in 2019.
Two years ago, Capt. Brant McMullan of Ocean Isle Fishing Center coordinated the establishment of the Kingfish Cup, a series of four tournaments in southeastern North Carolina that left ties with the Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) to form that series.
Now, three tournaments based out of Charleston and one in Murrells Inlet, which formerly were part of SKA’s Division 3, are establishing the new tour in South Carolina.
“Many of the divisions in SKA have gone off and done their own thing,” said Chris Lawhon of Marlin Quay Marina. “That division just needed a spark. We’ve gotten a lot of (positive) feedback from anglers.”
The tour opens with the Lowcountry Open, with a tour kickoff event scheduled for June 27 followed by fishing on June 29 out of Ripley Light Yacht Club in Charleston.
Hooked on Miracles is next, set for July 13 also out of Ripley Light Yacht Club.
The third event is the James Island Yacht Club King Mackerel and Inshore Tournament, set for July 26-27.
Lawhon and Marlin Quay Marina in Murrells Inlet host the Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout, which will be held Sept. 6-7 and culminates the series.
Qualifying boats will be eligible to compete in the Palmetto Kingfish Tour Championship, which will be held Sept. 27-28 in the Charleston-Mount Pleasant area.
Competing boats will head to the James Island Yacht Club in the morning for checkout and return to the weigh station at Saltwater Cowboys on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant in the afternoon.
Palmetto Kingfish Tour Director Ty Holland said the series was in the works regardless of the future of the SKA.
“We were going to do this anyway,” said Holland. “It’s about taking four successful tournaments and making them into a series — trying to bring together under one roof four different tournaments, a tour and a championship.”
Holland noted that a Carolinas championship event could be in the future, with qualifiers from McMullan’s Kingfish Cup from the Tar Heel State competing against qualifiers from the Palmetto Kingfish Tour from the Palmetto State.
“We’ve been working with Brant, and our goal is for us to take what we can build down here and hopefully have a North vs. South championship eventually,” said Holland.
The Palmetto Kingfish Tour plans to be small boat-friendly, with entry levels of $500, $1,500 and $3,000, along with a single-engine division.
“We wanted to make it as affordable for the small guy as we can,” said Lawhon.
Holland added, “we’re trying to make sure the single engine angler has an incentive to fish the tour.”
Nothing official has been announced about the status of the SKA for the 2019 king mackerel tournament season.
The organization’s website stated “No Data Here Yet” under the schedule for all 10 divisions plus the National Championship.
The SKA originated in 1991 and helped firmly establish king mackerel tournament fishing throughout the southeast. The SKA coordinated tournaments from North Carolina to Louisiana and staged a tour championship through 2018.
For more information on the Palmetto Kingfish Tour, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 703-231-6275 or visit www.facebook.com/Palmettokingfishtour/.