The Get Snookerd Snookers the Field at Gators Suncoast Kingfish Classic

By Bob Flocken

Treasure Island, Florida – A full moon, calm seas and extremely warm weather made fishing tough for the 83 teams participating in the 18th Annual Suncoast Classic KMT held at the world famous Gators Café and Saloon hosted by the King Gator himself, Sid Rice.

 Chris Workman, fishing with teammates Michelle Jackson, Kevin Weber and Jim Kurth, on Workman’s Yamaha powered Contender the TrophyGet Snookerd has done extremely well this year fishing close to their Naples, Florida home.  After claiming the Division 11 Class of 23 title with a 3rd place finish in Marco, 8th place overall in Naples and a 31.57 pound king to capture the 2nd place Class prize in Fort Myers, the Get Snookerd crew then went on to win some more cash with a 2nd place Class finish in the first Division 6 event at the Sarasota Sertoma KMT.
 Weber and Kurth were unable to fish the Gator’s event, so Chris and his sweetheart Michelle fished the tournament by themselves.  Because of their earlier success fishing south, Workman decided to check out of Sarasota and make the run to their home waters and try to find a good fish off of Sanibel.  “We spent four hours checking out some spots that had produced good fish for us earlier in the year, but didn’t get a bite” said Workman. “Around noon we decided to run all the way back to Egmount so that if we did catch a fish there we would be able to get back to the Pass to make the weigh-in.”  It was almost 4pm and just as they were bringing in their lines to call it quits, a fish ate a blue runner way back in their spread.  Chris was able to quickly get the fish to the boat for Michelle to gaff and as soon as the big girl was safely in their fish bag, Chris put the throttles down and headed to John’s Pass to barely make the 4:30 deadline.  A loud roar came from the crowd as the Get Snookerd’s king tipped the scales at 34.35 pounds to squeak by the Rambunctious’s 34.01 pound fish and take home the 19th Annual Gators Suncoast Kingfish Classic’s top prize.  The Get Snookerd’s fish would also earn Michelle the Top Lady Title.
 Capt MeetAt the Awards, I asked Michelle what they were going to do with the $8,000 cash prize that they had won.  She never hesitated.  With a big smile she told me “Chris and I are going to Las Vegas and getting married!”  (Sounds like your in trouble Chris.)
The Rambunctious, a Mercury powered Sea Vee skippered by Keith Hall with his son, nine year old Nathaniel Hall and Scott Wallace aboard, fished all day along at the Blinds Pass Drop, an area where they have had caught good fish in the past.  They caught several small fish early in the day.  Around noon, their second place finishing 34.01 pound kingfish ate a blue runner on the surface on one of their long lines in 30 feet of water.  Keith fought the fish to the boat where Scott set the gaff and hoisted the fish over the gunnel.  Nathaniel not only would win the Top Junior Prize for the event for their fish, but he would also be awarded the $500 Mercury Scholarship Award that Mercury will give away this year at all fifty SKA divisional events.
Three weeks prior to the Gators event, the Due West, Dante Fabbro’s Yamaha powered Cape Horn boat, with fishing partners Michael Tomaino and Kyle Martin aboard, went home with the top prize at the Tournament of Champions also held at Johns Pass with a 41 pound kingfish.  Early in the day, the Due West team tried to locate a fish at several spots with no luck.  They then decided to live up to their name and headed offshore 45 miles to some hard bottom in 120 feet of water due west of Johns Pass where they had caught some decent fish pre-fishing on the Thursday prior to the tournament.  RambunctiousThey weren’t there long when their third place winning 32.00 smoker would eat a big blue runner fished on top right up behind the boat's transom.  The fish put up a good fight but Mr. Tomaino soon had him in range of Kyle’s waiting gaff, and the rest is history.  “We sure would like to catch a good fish here in the fall and take a Division 6 title to the Nationals.” said Dante.  Good luck guys!
Last year’s Division 6 winner, Jack Penny, would like nothing better than to repeat as the Division winner in 2009.  Fishing with Penny on his 33T Yamaha powered Contender, the Penny Wise, were teammates Jeff Silverthorne, Bill Sullivan, Mike Penny and Stanley Asensio.  On Wednesday they pre-fished to the south along the beach and couldn’t find any fish.  On Thursday they took a look offshore and still couldn’t find anything to justify them traveling back on Saturday.  Friday they ran north were they did find lots of bait but caught nothing but AJ’s.  When Saturday rolled around, Penny decided to run offshore to the Middle Grounds and fish for an hour and move if they didn’t find any action there.  They set up in 125 feet of water over some good hard bottom and after about 50 minutes at 9:20 their 31.89 pound king attacked a blue runner fished 60 feet down on a downrigger.  In no time Mike Penny had their 4th place finishing kingfish on ice in their fishbox.  Hoping to find a bigger fish, the Penny Wise ended up slow trolling the Middle Grounds for another seven hours but could only catch one other small king and a couple of amberjacks.  Dr. Jack would like to thank Kevin and the Blue Runner On Top crew for all the bait.
Long time SKA member, Paul Lokey fishing with Larry Spencer and Pat O’Connell on the War Party, a Mercury powered Yellowfin would take home the 5th place award.  The War Party ran to a patch of hard bottom along a ledge 90 miles due west of the Clearwater Pass to a spot where Lokey had caught several large grouper and always seemed to hold a lot of good size bait.  They got there at 8:00 and as they were slowing down to start fishing, Larry let out a big blue runner that barely was in the water when it was attacked by a big fish.   After a fifteen minute fight, their 30.47 pound king was in the boat.  They fished the rest of the day but the only other fish they could find was a 70 pound wahoo.
The Bay Pines Marina crew skippered by Dave Karcher with Dane Travis, Rob Campbell, Tim Travis, and Bart Wiggins on board their Sea Vee caught a respectable 29.72 pound fish to take home the sixth place cash and prizes. 
Due WestSteve Hays along with pro teammate Perry Warner caught the seventh place 29.38 pound fish on their big Mercury powered Fountain boat, the Surreel. Eighth place would go to Patrick Hession, Bob Baver, and David Davenport, fishing on the Last Call, a Bluewater boat powered with Yamaha engines for a 29.11 pound king.
Jim Hasson and Kenny Gutekunst fishing on the 2nd Choice would take home the top Class of 23 award with a 29.23lb kingfish. 
Second place in the Class of 23 race would go to Team Boothe Construction’s Matt Boothe and John Celestian for their 28.94 pound fish.  The 3rd place Class award would go to the crew of the Knot Me for their 27.34 pounder.
This years Suncoast Classic was dedicated to Col. Larry “Huffy” Hoffman who passed away on March 3rd.  Larry was an important part of the formation and success of king mackerel fishing along Florida’s west coast.  His input to the SKA will be greatly missed.  In Larry’s memory, Captain Sam Maisano and his lovely wife Beth worked their tails off to make this the best Gators event ever.  Well done guys!

Gators 18th Annual Suncoast Kingfish Classic
Open Class
Contender / Yamaha
Chris Workman
Michelle Jackson
Sea Vee / Mercury
Keith Hall
Scott Wallace
Nathaniel Hall
32.003. DUE WEST
Cape Horn / Yamaha
Dante Fabbro
Michael Tomaino
Kyle Martin
31.894. PENNY WISE
Contender / Yamaha
Jack Penny
Jeff Silverthorne
Bill Sullivan
Mike Penny
Stanley Asensio
30.475. WAR PARTY
Yellowfin / Mercury
Paul Lokey
Larry Spencer
Pat O'Connell
Sea Vee / Yamaha
Dave Karcher
Dave Travis
Tim Travis
Rob Campbell
Bart Wiggins
29.387. SURREEL
Fountain / Mercury
Steve Hays
Perry Warner
29.118. LAST CALL
Bluewater / Yamaha
Patrick Hession
Bob Baver
David Davenport
Class of 23
29.231. 2ND CHOICE
Biddison / Yamaha
Jim Hasson
Kenny Gutekunst
Cape Horn / Yamaha
Matt Boothe
John Celestian
27.343. KNOT ME
Contender / Yamaha
Brian Hasson
Randy Keys
J.J. Hoyle
Dominic Molfetas

Top Lady Angler
34.35Michelle Jackson

Top Senior Angler
31.89Jack Penny

Top Junior Angler
34.01Nathaniel Hall

SKA Top Junior Anglers
sponsored by N.B.O.A Marine Insurance Agency, Inc
34.011. Nathaniel Hall
27.342. Dominic Molfetas
16.103. Zachary Luz

Mercury Marine Junior Angler Scholarship Winner
Nathaniel Hall