By Bob Flocken
Swansboro, North Carolina - The Hot Rod, Brett and Alan Barnes' Yamaha powered Contender would weigh a 46.88 on Saturday and follow it up by weighing the 47.12 pound tournament winner on Sunday to take home both the first and second place awards at this year's 32nd edition of the Swansboro Rotary Club's King Mackerel Tournament presented by Stevenson Chevrolet.
Brett told me that they fished both days on the East Side in sixty feet of water about a forty-five mile ride from the Hammocks Beach State Park weigh-in site. Around 9am on Saturday their second place finishing king ate a menhaden fished on the surface way back in their spread. Brett told me that the fish nearly spooled their reel on its first run and they had to clear the other lines and quickly point the boat at the fish to chase it down before it could break them off. Their Sunday fish also came early in the day after it ate another pogie, this time in the middle of their spread. The bigger fish didn't put up much of a fight and was soon close enough to the boat to gaff.
This was the third time that the Hot Rod has won the Rotary Club's KMT. Their first and second place finish in the 2012 event would earn the Hot Rod a check totaling over $30,000. Brett would like to thank everyone at the First Bank, the "best community bank in North Carolina", as well as the Intracoastal Angler in Wilmington for all their support.
Taking home the Rotary Club's third place check was the Hooligan skippered by Joe Winslow. Fishing the event with Joe on his Yamaha powered Yellowfin were Alan Ambrose and Fred Coyne. Joe told me that he fished his "Pot Licker Hole" a spot where he has historically caught some nice fish in the fall. Winslow caught their 46.46 pound fish, that ate a big bluefish, around 9:30 way back behind their boat. After a short fight, Alan was able to gaff their big fish. Joe told me that they had caught a 42 pound king earlier in the day and release another half dozen kings over thirty pounds while they were looking for a bigger fish.
The fourth place award for their 41.52 pound king was a non-member team and fifth place would be won by Mark, Joshua, and Crockett Henderson fishing on the Liquid Fire, their Yamaha powered Intrepid sponsored by a whole list of great companies, including the tournament's title sponsor, Stevenson Automotive along with Intrepid, Yamaha, Accurate Reels, Cannon Downriggers and NBOA Insurance and many, many more.
"Saturday we started out in shallow water and bounced around to several spots that normally hold fish without any luck," said Capt. Mark. "Around 10:00, we headed further offshore looking for cleaner water and ended up in 120 feet of water near the Atlas Tanker." Around 10:30 they hooked up to their 41.32 pounder that ate one of the bluefish, rigged with a chartreuse and mylar, Bluewater Candy skirt, that they were fishing about sixty feet down on one of their Cannon downriggers. Crockett, who fought the fish, told me that she didn't fight like a king and after a short, ten minute fight he had the fish close enough to see that it was tail-wrapped and wasn't able to put up much of a fight. The Liquid Fire's fish would earn them the Division 1 Open Class championship and Crockett's fish would earn him not only give him another first place SKA award but he would finish as the Top Junior in Division 1.
Rounding out the six forty pounders that weighed-in in Swansboro and taking home the tournament's top Small Boat award was the Justin Time, Johnny Hudson's Mercury powered Onslow Bay, who weighed the first fish carried to the scales on Saturday, a 40.38 pounder caught by Johnny's son Justin. Fishing with the Hudson's were teammates Lonnie Jones and David Chavis. Justin's big fish ate a pogie around 8:15 in 65 feet of water at the 30 Minute Rock and after a short fight Lonny gaffed the fish and loaded it into the boat's open fish box.
The Justin Time had a few challenges during the tournament. Johnny told me that he had loaded up with a couple hundred baits on Friday and when they went to pick them up from their cage early on Saturday, all but a dozen or so were dead. He said that on their way out the inlet he stopped and threw the net once and loaded their baitwell with big menhaden. Their next challenge came as they headed offshore and their GPS wouldn't work. John would like to thank Thomas Justice and his crew on the Justified for guiding them through the slough and all the way to the 30 Minute Rock where they caught their fish. Justin would win the Rotary Club's Top Junior Award and he would also take home the SKA's second place junior plaque.
John Lewis weighed a 38.86 to finish in sixth place on the Second Chanze and seventh place would go to Team Zebra, David Tedder's Yamaha powered Yellowfin, sponsored by Zebra Environmental and Industrial Services in High Point, N.C., Yamaha Outboards, Daiwa Reels and Island Tackle & Hardware in Carolina Beach. Fishing with David was his daughter Ashley along with Jeff Smith, John Sledge and Carl Cliver. The Zebra's 38.22 pound kingfish would earn Ashley her first Top Lady Angler award, the Division 1 Top Lady trophy and earn the Zebra a second place finish in this highly competitive division.
Finishing in eighth place was the Windy Conditions with a 36.22 pound kingfish. On board their Yamaha powered Contender were Skipper Henry Tillett fishing with his wife Wendy and their son Henry Tillett II along with Steele Park and Gage Bass. Henry and Gage would finish as the tournaments 2nd place Juniors.
Ninth place would go to a non-member team for their 35.96 and rounding out the top ten were David & D. Logan fishing on their Yamaha powered Yellowfin, the Logan's Run, with a 35.36 kingfish.
Six forty pound fish and several others in the thirty pound range came to the Hammock Beach scales at this year's final Division 1 event. What a great way to end the division!
Many thanks go to this year's tournament director, David Nance and his fine crew for making the 32nd Annual Swansboro Rotary KMT a fun event that will raise much needed capital for several programs. Since 1985 the club's scholarship fund has provide more than $700,000 for hundreds of local students to further their education. Swansboro Rotarians work hard to produce the finest tournament book I have ever seen that hopefully helps contributes lots of cash for their projects. Great Job gentlemen!!
Twenty-two year's ago Jack Holmes and his then partner John Jones met with Jim Davis (Charter Member #309) and other club members to pitch their new association to the Rotary tournament committee. After everything was said and done, the Swansboro event was the first ever to be sanctioned by our organization.