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U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament

image: man with fish
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
Outdoors
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