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FishermansPost.com - May 31, 2007 - page 33

 

KMT Journals

by Mark Henderson

 

TOURNAMENT TRAILS, MONEY, AND THE INTERNET

 

“We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”  Amity Police Chief Martin Brody stoically looked Quint (Robert Shaw) in the eye and made this proclamation in one of the most infamous movies of all time, Jaws.  Of course, they were trying to catch a 25-foot great white shark that had fictitiously eaten every sunbather and water sport enthusiast in New York.  However, the correlation between tournament king mackerel fishing and searching for “Jaws” is eerily similar:  razor sharp teeth, a lot of money, and a healthy dose of prideful testosterone.  Not to mention the similarity that one Florida fisherman experienced this past April, when a 57-pound king mackerel launched itself into the man’s boat and lacerated his leg, requiring 100-plus stitches.

 

As the stakes increase and competition for sponsorship becomes more intense, it is imperative that teams surround ourselves with the biggest and best equipment we can afford.  Various boat and outboard motor manufacturers are helping to provide an arena that makes even the most financially sensitive owner salivate at the potential prize structure for each event.  The Southern Kingfish Association (SKA), with its historic Mercury Trail divisional races and Mercury Professional Kingfish Tour, along with the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour and Series, are the leading tournament trails that stoke teams’ competitive fire.

 

Each of these trails is heavily sponsored by some of the most popular brand names in the marine industry.  With the weighty investment by these industry trendsetters, the escalation in prize money tempts nearly every dogmatic tournament angler.  Like a Remora to the belly of a shark, we adhere ourselves to the most favorable offerings of prize money, which, in turn, increases our desire to try to take advantage of these lavish opportunities.  Therefore, for many experienced teams, the competition to garner some of the interest and financial benefit from these companies dictates the buying and selling of boats.

 

As an example of these advantageous partnerships, Yamaha, Mercury, Evinrude, Hydra Sport, and Wellcraft offer huge amounts of contingency prize money to teams that “run” and place highly with their latest models in the professional leg of the SKA and FLW trails.  Local Jacksonville, NC team, Early Riser, captained by John Parks, won the inaugural 2005 Wal-Mart FLW King Mackerel Tour Championship.  A $150,000 payday accompanied this victory.  Parks’ boat manufacturer, Wellcraft, and outboard motor maker, Yamaha, combined to provide $75,000 of this illustrious sum.  The tournament format, which is deeply sponsored by Genmar boats and Yamaha motors, doubled the standard winnings just for fishing, and winning, while fishing their products.

 

Each of the five events in the SKA Mercury Professional Kingfish Tour guarantees a $40,000 payday to the tournament’s most accomplished team.  Captain Ron Mitchell from Port St. Lucie, FL, and his crew on the “Bandit,” dominated this tour in 2006 by breaking the all-time seven-fish weight aggregate with 283.14 pounds - a 40.45 pound average.  Mitchell’s team shattered the seven-year old mark, which had previously been held by three-time Angler of the Year, Dave Workman, Jr., by nearly 20 pounds.  With the champion’s trophy came a handsome payday as well  While the prize money and opportunity to gain a large income are intriguing, I still like to think that most teams do it for the love of competition and challenge.  The media gauntlet that has begun covering the sport proves portions of this theory.

 

Marketing king mackerel fishing has begun to infiltrate numerous media venues, including television.  Each tour has a popular show, the SKA’s “Fishin’ the Trail” on Versus and the FLW’s “Wal-Mart Professional Kingfish Tour” on FSN.  Each show chronicles the daily tournament activities of chosen teams, generally those leading the tournament.  The excitement of a blistering “smoker” run is often captured on the shows while team captains and crewmembers are sharing their experiences.  To compare the feeling of witnessing this, try to remember the first time you ever heard “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor in Rocky III.  Admittedly, goose bumps arose, the heart rate increased, as did vehicle speed if you happened to be behind the wheel – “oops, sorry officer.”  You can sense the excitement and anticipation of the “chase” that the team is experiencing.  However, if television is not your gig, then the internet will provide you all the information you could ever desire.

 

Our enthrallment with the World Wide Web (duba-duba-duba-dot) has ushered in a new media venue that has helped increase the competitive nature of the sport, as well.  Internet sites such as the popular www.fishermanspost.com, www.kingfishconnection.com, www.ncwaterman.com, www.fryingpantower.com, and www.captainstanman.us, just to name a few, are monitored hourly by tournament junkies and curious onlookers.  Becoming a member is as simple as establishing a login with a password and you will be privy to the most up to date information available regarding tournament fishing.  This can also be highly entertaining, as there are often times lively discussions in the “forum” sections.  Most of these sites provide beneficial information regarding inlet conditions, bottom fishing, blue water fishing, weather, water temperature, rig tying, classified ads, and retail outlets.

 

The popularity of the internet forums that fishermen visit regularly has even affected major changes in the tournament trails such as, designating and defining the term “captain” on fishing day, to helping salvage a divisional bracket on the Gulf Coast.  These sites are monitored by manufacturer representatives to help determine anglers’ current interests.  Captain Dan Peshkin, the creative mind behind the well-read Kingfish Connection site, has contributed to sport’s interest by creating a forum that has popular articles with some of the most influential business people and tournament anglers in the industry.

 

One of the most successful teams in the history of the SKA, the Hooligan, captained by Joe Winslow, has a website, www.hooligan.org, which chronicles his fishing adventures for interested readers.  After each tournament his team fishes, Winslow shares his experiences, good or bad (mostly good, because the man is one of many great fishermen on these tours), with visitors to his site.  Some of his explicit depictions of his highly accomplished team will give its reader a fever.

 

I’m sure I have failed to mention some other popular sites and don’t have the room to mention all of the great teams.  However, the premise is that with the developing age of technology, there is no excuse for not gathering all of the information that you may desire.  In addition to the above mentioned websites, there are many talented teams who have their own domains, and willingly provide information about their activities and how they fish.  The links to these sites can be found in the discussions on the others.  It’s the proverbial snowball rolling downhill.

 

So, the next time that you are having a relaxing, rainy Saturday afternoon, and you channel surf to TNT and hear the score for Jaws – DUH-DUM…DUH-DUM…DUH-DUM... DUH-DUM…DUH-DUH-DUM – just think of the other king mackerel tournament fishing teams that are getting chill bumps by listening to “Eye of the Tiger” on WTBS.

Until next issue… as Quint so affectionately sang, “Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain…”

 

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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