By Jack Holmes
Swansboro, North Carolina—A team called Chaos won the Onslow Bay King Mackerel Tournament with a great 42.09 but were part of a handful of teams who were not SKA members giving the win in our ranks to the Red Bull/Sawyer Fishing Team. Here's the kicker, the majority of the team, Mike, Johni, Mikey, and Chris Sawyer live in New Jersey. Mike's father, Rodney, and Vick McConnell live in Morehead City. Together they fished the Red Bull/Sawyer Fishing Team into the top SKA slot in the event scaling a nice 37.90. They came to the dock right behind the Chaos in their Mercury powered Donzi.
"We went to the 1700 Rock," Mike told me after weighing their fish. "She was in the boat before eight o'clock. We were in 83 feet of water and caught her on a naked pogy on the surface. She made three big runs as we bounced around in four- to six-foot seas. This was a great finish for us and the kids." They were not only the top juniors, Mikey and Chris which each received plaques but also Mikey got the $500 Mercury Scholarship money. Not to slight Chris, Mikey got the award because he is the oldest. It's Chris's turn next.
"We are so excited," said Mike at the Captain's meeting. "We will be back down for the next one. We just love this competitive fishing." Rodney must be very happy getting to fish with the family and have a built-in team and Vick McConnell doesn't have so much work to do on the boat. It's a team effort!
Matt Gay and Vernon Jones earned third place with a close 36.60 on the Yamaha powered Contender named Southern Bale. "I couldn't believe it," Matt started out, "We spun a prop and just couldn't go anywhere but it certainly worked out just fine. We were forced to fish the rock jetties at Cape Lookout. A long lined menhaden did the trick. Vernon did the cranking job while I tried to keep the boat in the right place and I stuck the fish. We were pleased to see such a nice fish come over the gunwale." I think you call it destiny.
East Coast Sports earned fourth with a 33.97. The Edens with Randall, George, and Cole, fished off the edge of the 1700 Rock. "I just don't like fishing in a crowd," Randall told me. "We found a pogy pod and worked it to death. At 10:30 our 33 ate a pogy and Cole went to work." The Yamaha powered Onslow Bay fishes the Small Boat Class and won the Small Boat Class in the "08 National Championship. Cole is considered to be one of the best juniors we've had in SKA competition.
Last Minute, a Yamaha powered Contender, with Leonard Taylor and Matt Purvis held up Sunday morning till the thunderstorm passed. "It was raining pretty hard but that didn't bother us but the lightning was pretty dramatic, so we just waited till 7:30 before we left," said Leonard. "We fished around till noon with nothing to show for our efforts so we ended up at the 1700 Rock just after noon. Shortly after then our 31.82 ate a pogy on a medium line. Matt usually has the honor of fighting the fish but he was on the bow when she hit so I grabbed the rod. We've been fishing together for over nine years so everything flows on our boat. This king just didn't act like a good fish and were surprised when she came to the surface."
This is a good fishing team that deserves all the accolades we can give them.
Steve Jones and Ben James, plus Kevin Poole and Henry Dail fished the Mercury powered Fountain, Early Out. Guess where they went? 1700 Rock, you're correct. "We were there with a lot of other boats because that's where the fish have been," explained Steve. "When weather is bad you don't have the time to explore, you go to where you think you can get a money fish." They did—sixth!
"We got our 28.73 about ten o'clock," he added. "She ate a pogy on the short line, took a lot of line but we got on her right away, thought she was a money fish."
Steve is fortunate because as he put it, "We have a great sponsor who provides us with all our tackle," referring to EZ Bait and Tackle in Goldsboro, North Carolina. "I can't tell you how much they have helped us. I recommend them highly!"
Amanda Gail, an Evinrude powered C-Hawk, with David Lucas and Thomas Evans earned seventh place with a 26.92. It was no surprise to me to see this team once again in the top ten. They are world-class fishermen. Dave asked me to thank Evinrude and Mark's Marine in Greenville, North Carolina for keeping his engines tuned to a T, and Mr. Tigger Tackle for the great rigs they use. Glad to do it, Dave! We all know that when people get behind us we appreciate it and work hard to promote their services or product. A tip of the SKA hat to both of these great companies!
The Henderson's Liquid Fire Team, the '08 Angler of the Year team, picked up eighth place with a 24.18. They seem to be on a roll this year, with a big win in Sarasota, plus other top ten finishes plus their new, sponsored, 38' Intrepid powered by Yamaha. They are truly a Championship team and don't be surprised if they win another title this year. Crockett will win another Junior Angler title this year also. This is his last year as a junior.
Reel Thrill/Team Bone Suckin' Sauce earned ninth place with a 23.24 pound king. Vaughn Ford, Walt Nelson, and Jay Bucklen make up the Mercury powered Onslow Bay team. They were also a sponsor of the tournament.
The Onslow Bay tournament committee led by Captain Stanman produced another great event that drew 60 boats this year. Down slightly from last season but that was due to the weather. They still raised good money for local charities and the Wounded Warrior program. Congratulations to the winners, the tournament committee, and my friend Stanman for a job well done.