One thing clearly demonstrated during the recently held 2011 SKA National Championship: Teamwork
There is simply nothing in the world of saltwater fishing like suddenly finding your kingfish team smack in the middle of a full fledged kingfish bite. Better yet, when there is a major kingfish bite during late fall offshore of Biloxi, Mississippi during the 2011 SKA National Championship.
Two kingfish seasons earlier, the 2009 SKA National Championship was also held in Biloxi, Mississippi and the entire fleet of kingfish boats was also surrounded by a giant school of twenty- to seventy-pound king mackerel at the Horseshoe live bottom. After the seventy-mile offshore run from the famous casino town of Biloxi, Mississippi, king mackerel fishermen began enjoying a day of king mackerel fishing that is still vividly etched in their minds. I was there on Jeff and Nancy Dunbar’s kingfish boat, properly named the Fish Dancer. And till this day, that day of saltwater fishing was without a doubt my very best. Keep in mind, I never touched a kingfish rod!
As kingfish teams free lined live baits off from their boat’s transom, a school of twenty- to seventy-pound king mackerel intercepted kingfish baits within seconds of their deployment!
Rube, Barrett and Brant McMullan fished aboard team OIFC and weighed in a record breaking kingfish that beat all competitors at 74.10-pounds!
Without saying, many of the 2009 kingfish teams literally came unprepared for the big kingfish bite that was staging off from Biloxi Mississippi. Many skilled kingfish teams ran out of kingfish baits and kingfish rigs before high noon!
However, when the fleet of the 2011 SKA Kingfish Teams returned to Biloxi November 7-13, 2011, team preparation could not have been better!
Team Under Armour/Caliente arrived with their Mercury powered Yellowfin kingfish boat and tackle trailer literally stocked full of kingfish gear.
“We are expecting a big kingfish bite, so we came prepared,” Team Captain Arik Bergerman from St. Petersburg, Florida said. “We are continuing to put together kingfish leaders of all sizes in our tackle trailer, while “Yeti” coolers are being filled with pre-rigged Spanish mackerel and ballyhoo on our kingfish boat. We also have filled three large bait motels with live hard tails, mullet, and bluefish. We will be prepared for the big kingfish bite!”
While it was no secret, many of the kingfish teams were once again planning to target the famous salt humps, also called the Horseshoe, on tournament day. Reportedly many kingfish teams were predicting a repeat kingfish performance from these famed kingfish waters.
“We went right back to where we won the event during the 2009 SKA National Championship,” Rube McMullan said. “We had to compete with almost the entire fleet of SKA tournament teams; it was simply a big parking lot of kingfish boats!”
Team Ocean Isle Fishing Center amazingly reeled in a repeat win at Biloxi. Two stud king mackerel weighed 54.70 and 48.43 pounds for a first place aggregate weight of 103.13 pounds in the Open Class division.
“It was perfect teamwork,” Rube McMullan explained. “We had made the proper preparations before hand to have all of the needed kingfish rigs on board. Obviously we could not get a live kingfish bait anymore then thirty yards off from the transom of our Yellowfin tournament boat without being eaten by a big kingfish. Our key to success was being able to accurately predict if the hooked kingfish was a tournament king or just another thirty-five pound kingfish. If the king felt like a keeper, we allowed the king to make its long runs, also playing the hooked king like a winner. If the hooked king did not show up with a tournament grade fight, we tightened the reel drag and released it in a hurry.”
Kingfish teams fishing within eyesight of team OIFC said that it was an amazing sight to see how quickly the McMullans were able to cull through that big school of Horseshoe king mackerel.
One king mackerel fisherman explained, “It was like watching a race car crew change tires and refuel as the McMullans hooked and landed kingfish like a NASCAR race team!”
Fishing aboard their Yamaha powered Yellowfin tournament boat included Rube McMullan, Barrett McMullan, Brant and Amy McMullan, and daughter Caroline.
Team Strike Two hailing from Navarre, Florida, captained by Rob Lupola, also displayed perfect teamwork both during pre-fishing and during their tournament day.
While jigging up live hard tails at a popular oil rig that had been removed by cutting the legs off deep under the water line, they also took time to discover a big kingfish bite close at hand! Keep in mind that the dismantled oil rig was sitting right on a hard bottom and only some fifty miles offshore of Biloxi. This meant that team Strike Two would have more time king fishing than the majority of the field navigating seventy miles offshore to the Horseshoe bottom.
“We could actually look down in the water and see both red snapper and king mackerel from the top of the water column and to down deep,” Jason Spratley said. “The kingfish were really putting on a show as they darted this way and that chasing down bait fish. Occasionally kingfish would bite right through our fluorocarbon leaders and fishing lines as they chased down bait fish.”
“Certainly our key to victory was making up our kingfish leaders with American Fishing Wire’s fifty-eight-pound Seven Strand. This enabled our fishing team to cull through the fast biting king mackerel without having to replace piano wire that typically kinks during a kingfish fight.”
“We were the only boat in the area fishing the oil rig and hard bottom,” Captain Rob Lupola said. “I know we caught and released more than fifty kingfish and no telling how many red snapper weighing from fifteen to twenty pounds. By using seven strand wire, it enabled our team to hook and cull through kingfish, release red snapper in a hurry and more importantly, re-bait and quickly target a possibly larger king mackerel.”
Team Strike Two took top honors in the Small Boat Division while weighing in the largest king of the event at 61.90 pounds. Their two king mackerel first place aggregate weight was an impressive 103.96 pounds!
Paul Myers Sr. and team Triple J got serious about their kingfish leaders, spending most of the day before the tournament constructing kingfish leaders on a large table located in the Isle’s luncheon café.
“With such a big kingfish bite happening at the Horseshoe, we will need to have plenty of kingfish leaders on hand,” said teammate, Keith Mangus. “You don’t have time to make up new leaders when the tournament is going to be run for only one day instead of two days. More importantly, when you have such a big school of hungry kingfish waiting for a live bait rigged to a kingfish leader, there is no time to spare!”
During the 2011 SKA Key West Harbour King Mackerel Tournament, Captain Paul J Meyers captained his Triple J kingfish team to a new tournament record 67.66-pound king mackerel.
“Our fishing team showcased perfect teamwork in winning the Key West kingfish tournament,” Paul J. Myers said. Our game plan during the 2011 SKA National Championship is to demonstrate the same teamwork. Right now we are working like a team putting our kingfish leaders together!”
One thing that was very obvious at the 2011 SKA National Championship—Teamwork.
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