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FishermansPost.com - July 19, 2007 - page 33

 

KMT Journals

by Mark Henderson

 

ENJOYING THE JOLLY-MON – A CLASS ACT

 

In the world of sports, the term “360” is generally considered something out of the ordinary or spectacular.  Whether it is a high-flying slam dunk or your first flip off of a diving board, either one is thought of as an accomplishment.

 

There is no difference in king mackerel tournaments that draw such a “round” number.  It is a true accomplishment to organize an event that attracts that many entries in these times of sky-rocketing fuel prices.

 

My Liquid Fire Fishing Team recently had an opportunity to fish one of the most organized and enjoyable events we have ever participated in when Brant, Amy, and Barrett McMullan and the remainder of the crew of Ocean Isle Fishing Center (OIFC) hosted the 2007 Jolly Mon King Classic on June 22-23.

 

The fairly remote, but easily accessible and beautiful, vacation destination was filled with 361 tournament fishing teams during this Captain’s Choice event.  Each team was allowed to determine the day they wanted to fish – either Saturday or Sunday.

 

This event-format is becoming a popular structure in North Carolina tournament fishing because of potentially foul weather or other commitments that may keep a team from fishing one day, but not the next.

 

I had heard about the exploits of the JMKC, therefore, we decided to fish it based on its fine reputation.  Although we aren’t completely new to the sport, this is our third year; fishing in areas outside of the Morehead City / Swansboro area is not a weekly occurrence.

 

We began the morning with a long run out of Bogue Inlet to the south, and after battling numerous amberjacks and sharks, we finally slung a decent king, 23.4 pounds, in the ice – good enough for 28th place.  At this point, we knew we were going to make a two-hour jaunt from our isolated destination (Shh, one of those top secret spots) through the somewhat unfamiliar Carolina Beach Inlet and Snows Cut.

 

As we zipped down the ICW past Southport, we finally spotted the high-rise bridge at Ocean Isle.  We were met by Barrett’s calming, southern tone on VHF channel 72.  We spotted him in a Sailfish boat (one of the tournament sponsors) east of the bridge in the waterway.

 

“There is no check in boat,” he bellowed.  “Just get in the line by 5:00 p.m.  We’ve got plenty of time.”  He calmly and politely answered this question numerous times for captains who were unable to hear him while they were running to the weigh-in.

 

After scrambling to get our sponsor’s logo shirts on, my bright red Contender inched past the Sailfish.  As we headed to the OIFC dock to weigh our “hawg,” Barrett politely asked, “Did you get a big ‘un?”  “Just fair,” I replied.  “That’s okay,” he smiled, “ya’ll look good.”

 

I have personally never participated in a tournament in which, after a long day of fishing, a nice volunteer greeted me at the weigh-in with a hand full of hot dogs –- until now.  As I maneuvered my 25-foot rig to allow my sons, father and brother-in-law off to present our beast, I heard the voice of about an 11-year old girl say, “Sir, here are some hot dogs.”  This was followed by a sincere “thank you for fishing” from Amy as she helped push my boat from the floating dock.

 

At the awards ceremony, it was evident that this wasn’t Brant’s first rodeo.  The proficiency at which he and the tournament staff and volunteers worked was a marvel.  The evening began with an outstanding shrimp boil dinner that was included in the nominal $250 entry fee.

 

Shortly after the conclusion of the feast, Brant began the distribution of awards and checks.  With Amy by his side and providing him with the correct envelope at the right time, every time, they distributed an immeasurable amount of honors to the top 30 teams, junior, lady, and senior anglers, special prizes, and SKA awards in less than one hour.

 

It was a true lesson in efficiency, and with the anticipation, exhilaration, and competition involved in this wacky sport, it was refreshing to have a few of these out ordinary experiences happen. 

 

Even more amazing is that I actually took a break from the “macho” feeling of going to the scales to enjoy some of these finer opportunities, such as watching my son Joshua battle our first fish of the day.  His silhouette against the eastern glow made me realize how cool it is to be able to spend so much time with my family.

 

Witnessing my 11-year old son, Crockett, scurry around the deck to get gaffs, drinks, rigs, or perform any other duties that a 42-year old is not inclined to do, made me giggle.  Sharing in Chris’s, my brother-in-law’s, growth in the past three years from fishing novice to setting a perfect live-bait spread is rewarding.

 

Actually taking the time to appreciate the fact that my father battles severe arthritis to go with us and share his depth of understanding, makes me reflect on the many hours he spent with me years ago pounding the sprawling willow trees for largemouth bass.

 

I’ve been a sports fanatic and participant my entire life, but never have I been able to experience the joy of success or disappointment of failure with my whole team more than now. 

 

Certainly, enjoying these times is more important than seeing how high a scale can register.  Maybe that’s why the Jolly Mon drew such a record breaking crowd, because it was more about enjoyment than competition.

 

Thank you for the outstanding tournament OIFC staff.  We are looking forward to the Fall Brawl in October.

However, I must confess, weighing a good ‘un definitely adds to the family enjoyment!

 

Mark Henderson is the captain of the Cape Carteret, NC-based Liquid Fire Fishing Team sponsored by: Intreptid Powerboats, Yamaha Outboards, Cannon Downriggers, Accurate Fishing Products, AmeraTrail Custom Trailers, Simrad, Best Buy Marine, Optima Batteries, Yo-Zuri, Ocean-Tamer Bean Bags, Sportsman’s Toy Store, Crystal Coast Graphics, SPRO/Gamakatsu, Pro Chips, Columbia Sportswear, Costa Del Mar, Lee’s Livebait and Stevenson Automotive Group.

 
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