VanLent’s 62.74 Tops the Field in Division 7 Opener
By Bob Flocken
Pensacola Beach, Florida – Despite the approach of the huge Nor’Easter that had dropped several inches of rain and blew down trees as it crossed over northern Florida, the weather reports for Sunday actually looked pretty good. Because of that the 2nd Annual Miller Lite Mack Attack to benefit the Pace Center for Girls tournament committee decided to let the participants sign out to fish at the captain’s meeting Friday night and changed the weigh in from Saturday until Sunday afternoon. This proved to be the right decision as Sunday’s weather was perfect. Fishermen found 5 to 10 knot southerly winds and 2 to 3 foot seas when they headed offshore Sunday morning.
First to the scales was the Kwazar, skippered by long time SKA member, Marcus Kennedy with teammates Max Williams, Tyler Kennedy and Brett Rutledge on board. The Mobile Alabama based team has built quite a reputation for finding big fish all along the Gulf Coast. The crowd grew quiet as the big Yamaha powered Yellowfin pulled up to the dock just after the scales opened. The first fish of the day would tip the tournament scales at 40.14 pounds. A great start to the 2nd Annual Miller Light Mack Attack’s weigh in held at the brand new Lost Key Marina. “We launched the boat in Fourchon early Saturday morning and fished several rigs west of the Mississippi” said Kennedy. “We were able to catch at least 25 kingfish, 3 cobia and a wahoo. Every one of our kings was caught trolling hard tails 80 feet down. Not one of the fish ate a surface bait. We had a good days fishing but couldn’t find a really big fish before we had to make the 3 hour run back to Mobile.” Tyler caught the Kwazar’s 5th place finisher late in the day. Thanks go to Marc’s company, SYN-FAB, who sponsored the tournaments Junior Angler prizes.
Another long time SKA fisherman, David Van Lent, fishing with his lovely wife Rosemary, Jeff Hall and Mike Ward on the “Truckin Up” were the next team to weigh. Van Lent had made the decision to fish to the west and work their way back toward Pensacola until they found a good fish or had to leave to make it to the scales on time. They launched their Yamaha powered Contender in Venice, La. and began fishing some rigs 70 miles west of Venice. They headed east and fished around several rigs but were only able to find an amberjack. Rosemary told me that around 1 pm they saw a big school of small bonito busting the surface around a rig. “We were moving in closer to the rig to catch some of the baits when something ate a big blue runner that we were pulling on a downrigger about 40 feet below the surface. Mike was standing next to the rod when the fish took off but he wouldn’t pick it up. David grabbed the rod and fought our only king to the boat where Jeff was able to gaff it.” Rose wanted everyone to know that she did a great job driving the boat and keeping the fish away from the nearby rig. If you're only going to catch one fish in an event, their tournament winning 62.74 pound smoker would be the one you would want to haul to the scale. Nice Fish Guys! David would like to remind everyone that if you need some goodies for your tow vehicle give Truckin Up Truck Accessories in Mobile a call.
Two more accomplished SKA veterans, Louisiana’s Danny Mathis and his Texas teammate Bobby Schoenfeld fished on the Cat Daddy, Mathis’ Mercury powered Yellowfin, they fished on the east side of the Delta where they caught 30 nice kings and 6 wahoo fishing around several oil rigs and over some bottom structure. Early Sunday afternoon, their 2nd place finishing 42.18 kingfish ate a hard tail on the surface in 160 feet of water. Danny caught the fish which Bobby promptly gaffed and loaded into their fish bag. Their excitement for the day came when they had a triple header of wahoo attack their baits. When we pulled out of the marina, Danny was still cleaning the tasty fish.
Neal Foster is another of the great fisherman from the Gulf area who has been fishing SKA events since the early 90’s. Fishing with Foster was long time friend and teammate, Mark Collier and Mark’s son Josh. (Josh is graduating from high school in a couple of weeks and he has been accepted to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy where he starts this summer. It has been Josh’s dream to join the Coast Guard since he was 5 or 6 years old. Way to go Josh!) For the past several years, Foster and his crew have been one of the teams to beat anywhere in the Florida Panhandle all the way around the Gulf into Texas. The Intense team was fishing the Mack Attack on a new slotted 33T Contender powered with a pair of 350hp Yamaha outboards while Neal’s new Contender is being built. Foster traveled all over looking for a decent fish and until around 3pm they found their 40.80 pound 3rd place winning king in 190 feet of water, back where they started fishing in the morning about 55 miles south of Dauphin Island, over a wreck where they have caught several nice fish before.
The Airborne, a Yamaha powered Cape Horn boat, would capture a 40.42 pound fish to finish in 4th place. Steve McMullen started fishing SKA events in 1993. Since then he has placed in several events and has won the Alabama Deep Sea Rodeo twice, in 2004 and again in 2007. Also fishing on the Airborne were teammates Sean McMullen, Rian LaFon, and Mike Hart. They also had little luck in finding a decent fish early in the day and traveled to the same area where the Intense found their fish. “Our big fish ate a hard tail in the prop wash right behind the boat as Sean was letting it out” said McMullen. “We all watched as the big king crushed the bait right behind our transom.” Steve would like to thank Tyler and the crew at Cape Horn for all their help.
The My Dinghy, another Cape Horn boat, skippered by Pensacola’s James Hosman with John Hosman and Donnie Shear on board, left Pensacola around 2:30 in the early morning expecting bad weather on their trip to an area just south of Biloxi. They found conditions much better than they expected and started fishing just as the sun came up. They found some “king green” water over some live bottom in 180’ and right away had a fish eat a downrigger bait fished about 25 feet down. This 35.82 pound 6th place winning kingfish turned out to be the only king that they caught all day. However the 59 pound wahoo and white marlin that attacked their baits made the day special.
The seventh place prize would go to David Rogers, Jr’s Quietus for their 27.52 pound kingfish. Fishing along with Rogers were teammates J.J. Gilmore, Jason Andrews, and Joey Spiers. “We had several fish on during the day but we couldn’t get them to the boat” said Rogers. “We missed hookups, pulled hooks, and broke fish off all day long. We lost more fish Sunday than any other time I can remember.” The fish that they were able to get back to the boat ate a hard tail at 8am fished on a downrigger about 30 feet down near the BK203 rig where they had gone to catch bait. David is also another accomplished SKA fishermen who has placed in several events as well as winning the 2006 Deep Sea Rodeo.
Another seasoned SKA team, The Johnny B took home the first place Class of 23 prize for their 33.82 pound king that they caught fishing around a rig 80 miles southeast of Biloxi in 180’ of water, in an area where they had caught fish during the Nationals. Fishing on their bright blue and red Contender were John Benkenstein, Nick Garthwaite and skipper, Johnny Benkenstein Jr. who had just been discharged from the Army after proudly serving our nation for 4 ½ years including 2 years in Iraq. The Johnny B had tried to fish awhile on Saturday and ventured offshore 30 – 40 miles but only found dirty water and way too much current. At 9:15 Sunday morning, their big fish ate a blue runner as they were letting out their first bait of the day.
Brad Sauers and his crew did a great job with their second event. Despite the horrible weather reports that frightened off the majority of local fishermen, the Miller Lite Mack Attack tournament went off with out a hitch. The Lost Key Marina is a great place to hold an event and the marina personnel went way out of their way to make everyone feel welcome and most importantly some cash was raised to benefit the Pace Center for Girls.
|2nd Annual Miller Lite Mack Attack|
|62.741. TRUCKIN UP|
Contender / Yamaha
|42.182. CAT DADDY|
Yellowfin / Mercury
Contender / Yamaha
Cape Horn / Yamaha
Yellowfin / Yamaha
|35.826. MY DINGHY|
Cape Horn / Yamaha
Yellowfin / Mercury
David Rogers, Jr.
|Class of 23|
|33.821. JOHNNY B|
Contender / Yamaha
Johnny Benkenstein, Jr.
|SKA Top Junior Anglers|
|sponsored by Kajun Sportsman|
| 1. No juniors weighed fish.|