Gameday Wins 29th Annual Sapelo Open King Mackerel Tournament!
By Jack Holmes
Shellman Bluff, Georgia - The scales had opened at three o'clock but it was nearly four and only one boat was on the horizon coming to the scale. Last year there were five boats waiting for the scales to open at three. I was worried. I had talked to several guys at registration and they were all complaining about no bait and no fish from pre-fishing.
The weather leading up to this event had been horrible—ten days of rain plus horrible winds. The Sapelo Open usually is held on Memorial Day weekend, but because of the weather it was postponed until the following weekend. It was the right decision!
After seeing a couple of dinks come in, things started to pick up, finally. But I'll tell you, even the dinks were faith builders and, for the teams that brought them in, thank you.
A little after 4:30 David, Ryan, and W.D. Rodeffer plus Raymond Davis slid up to the Contentment Bluff Marina dock. "What's been scaled," W.D. asked as they got their king ready for the picture. "A 36 and a couple of 32's," I answered as I pushed the shutter button.
Off to the scale W.D. and junior angler Raymond Davis went and soon returned with big smiles on their faces. "She went 37.95."
Later after the scales closed W.D. told me, "Jack, this was the first trip on our new Mercury powered Yellowfin, its first tournament, our fish was the first one caught in the morning, and this was our first win of the season." I thought that was pretty ironic.
"We bought baits from Lees Baits and caught her on a ribbonfish in 90 feet of water," he added. "I do want to thank Sound Wave for all their help on getting all the electronics rigged on the boat. They are great people."
Now to the junior angler, Raymond Davis, who is only 14 but is getting close in size to the Rodeffer's, won first place junior for the tournament, first place SKA Junior, plus won the $500 Mercury Scholarship money. It was his second check from Mercury.
Steve Holley who is the guy behind Contentment Bluff, earned second place with a nice 36-pound king. Fishing with Catherine Holley, Josh Tucker, and Paul Sumner on his great Yamaha powered Onslow Bay, Reel Buzz, they worked the area north east of R2. "It was truly a team effort," said a modest Holley. "We were in 110 feet of water and fishing a ribbonfish down fifty feet. It was the bait she ate."
Catherine now leads the SKA Division Four ladies by winning Top Lady Angler in the event.
Before I go on to third place, I want to thank Steve for his great hospitality, the excellent grounds from which to hold the event, and his support of the SKA.
Third place fell to perennial winners in Georgia waters, Johnny Wildes, Pete Eldridge, and Joey Wildes. Fishing the Reel Wild / Square & Level, they were 50 miles offshore somewhere in the Elton Bottom. "It was about noon when she ate a live Lees Bait 50 feet below the surface," Pete told me. "We were fishing in pretty green water, about 120 feet. Joey was the angler." Their king tipped the scale at 33.57. Nice fish to start the Division but this team has already qualified for the November big show in Division 11. It was the second year in a row they qualified there. Very smart tactical decision!
The Barnett's, Jack, Melissa, and Jack Sr., fishing the Mercury powered Donzi, Meant 2 Be, claimed fourth place honors with a 32.35. "We were 40 miles east fishing Georgia waters," Jack told me after scaling their fish. "I guess it was around 1:30 when she ate a greenie in 120 feet of water. We were pretty close to where Steve was fishing on the Reel Buzz.
Rounding out the top five was Jody Collins, Randy Hunter, and Robin Dutton fishing the Yamaha powered Contender Watt'n Me. They scaled the final fish caught from a field of 75 teams with their 29.53. That's absolutely superb when you consider only 29 boats scaled fish. That's less than 40 percent of the field. Congrats!
The top Class of 23 team fell to Gerald Riner on Buwana, a Suzuki powered Sea Quest. "We were on the Grand Banks, and area east of R2", he explained after collecting his money. "It was around 10:30 and we were fishing in about 110 feet of water."
He went on to tell me that he caught his 29.12 on a grunt. I knew bait was reel hard to come by but this shows you've got to improvise, adapt, and realize when a king is hungry, they'll eat virtually anything you present to them.
Second place in Class of 23 went to Lee Southard, Pete Buhles, Mike McGaughey, and Rocky Mallard fishing the Just Fishin LLC, a Suzuki powered McKee Craft. "Lee caught her off a ribbonfish fished about 65 feet below the surface," I was told. The fish pushed the LED numbers on the electronic scale to 21.77 and they fished at the R2.
Sixth through tenth place went to SKA teams.
Scott, Wes, and Ben Pope plus Jason Franklin earned sixth with a 25.69. They fish a Yamaha powered Contender named Tall Tail. Ben Pope earned second place SKA Junior.
Seventh fell to Tommy Hunt, Adam Olliff, Stephen Brantley, and Keith Branch, on the Big Nasty, a Yamaha powered Hydra Sports. They scaled a 23.42.
Eigth place with a 22.87 went to Gary Ryals, John Hall Jr., Shawn Steverson, Ike Maulden, and Lindsay Duffield, on the No Mercy while Lee McCurdy captured ninth on the Get Reel with a 20.89. Turner and Mollie McCurdy shared third place in the SKA Junior standings.
Rounding out your top ten was Ashley and Missy Thompson fishing the Yamaha powered Pro Kat, Katastropic.
Once again the Sapelo Sportfishing Club proved to us that after 29 years of producing the Sapelo Open, it still is one of the best events on the SKA's Mercury Tournament Trail.
Thanks also to Lockwood Marine and their staff for the hospitality shown for a great Captain's party.
Looking forward to a 30th Anniversary edition next year!
|Sapelo Open King Mackerel Tournament Final Standings|
Yellowfin / Mercury
|36.002. REEL BUZZ|
Onslow Bay / Yamaha
|33.573. REEL WILD / SQUARE & LEVEL|
Yellowfin / Yamaha
|32.354. MEANT 2 B|
Donzi / Mercury
Jack Barnett Sr.
|29.535. WATT'N ME|
Contender / Yamaha
|25.696. TALL TAIL|
Contender / Yamaha
|23.427. BIG NASTY|
Hydra Sports / Yamaha
|22.878. NO MERCY|
Contender / Yamaha
John Hall Jr.
|20.899. GET REEL|
Yellowfin / Yamaha
Pro Kat / Yamaha
|Class of 23|
Sea Quest / Suzuki
|21.772. JUST FISHIN LLC|
McKee Craft / Suzuki
|Top Lady Angler|
|Top Junior Angler|
|SKA Top Junior Anglers|
|sponsored by Hickory Bluff Marine|
|37.951. Raymond Davis|
|25.692. Ben Pope|
|20.893. Mollie and Turner McCurdy|
|Mercury Marine Junior Angler Scholarship Winner|