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Tournament Seasons » 2011  » Tournament Trail

Division: Nationals Biloxi, MS 2011 SKA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP November 7-13, 2011
Strike Two’s 103.96 Aggregate Largest Aggregate of All Teams

Strike Two’s 103.96 Aggregate Wins Small Boat Nationals Championship! Largest Aggregate of All Teams!

By Jack Holmes

Weather still dictated policy.
At the 2011 National Championship we again faced bad weather. We were fortunate that we had a lot of help in our decisions. First we had a website given to us by Danny and Lorri at Gorenflo's Tackle, located at Point Cadet Marina, site of the Championship. They kept us up to date with the best in forecasting. They use a website called Windfinder. It gave us hourly wind direction, wind speed, wind gusts, wave direction, wave height, wave period, cloud cover, precipitation, air pressure, and air temperature. It was extremely accurate.

On top of that we also had a commercial site that the work and crew boat companies use and requires a subscription service. Very costly, but they were very helpful and extremely accurate.

Both of these were just what we needed to make the right decisions. On Friday afternoon the winds and seas subsided and gave us a great window for Saturday which turned out to be picture perfect.

We thank these two sites for all their help. Technology is great!

Biloxi, Mississippi—Strike Two's Rob Lupola, Ray Martinez, Ken Odom, Jason Spratley, and Mike Henke caught a 61.90, the largest king mackerel caught in this year's Nationals, then backed it up with a 42.06 for the largest two-fish aggregate, 103.96, of the overall Championship.

The team, who finished ninth in Division 7's Small Boat Division, fish a Mercury powered Onslow Bay. "This is a dream come true for the team," Rob told me. "We didn't go to the Horseshoe like the majority of the field. We worked a hard bottom area that was just fifty miles from Biloxi thanks to Bobby Schoenfeld who pre-fished the area. There was a lot of bait here. In fact it was the old CA25 area that has produced many a good fish in past Nationals."

At eight o'clock the second bait deployed by the team got hit and Ray Martinez brought their forty-two pounder to gaff. "We were feeling pretty good at that point," explained Lupola. "We were hooked up with virtually every bait we deployed but it wasn't till ten o'clock that the big king ate a hard tail. Ray again took the rod. We knew this was a big king just watching line peel off the reel. You can only imagine our excitement when she came up next to the boat."

The team didn't quit however, they estimated that before picking up and heading to the scales at the Isle Casino Hotel parking garage, they went through more than a hundred baits. "A lot of people worked areas other than the Horseshoe. We knew it would be a zoo out there so we believed we needed another area and it worked. In retrospect, after talking to a lot of other teams, it seems no matter where you went, the bite was on all day."

Rob and the team have always presented themselves very professionally and worked very hard over the years to get sponsorship. Their efforts finally culminated with a Small Boat Division National Championship. I'm sure they will represent themselves and their sponsors very well!

The scales opened on Saturday at three o'clock but we didn't see the first boat until 3:30. All boats were to return and be in the weigh-in line by five. Terry Holmes did the check-in back at the Small Boat Harbor, and then they lined up and waited for Bobby Flocken to call them into the Pointe Cadet Marina where most of the teams had slips. It went very smoothly, however when you are weighing two fish per team, it got backed up on stage. When the event ended and winners announced, a tally was done on the total weight of the fish brought to scale—8,718 pounds. That does not include any fish teams had on board which were donated. All fish went to a local food bank.

Bluchips, a 23-foot Onslow Bay powered by Yamaha, earned second place with an 88.87 two-fish aggregate. Radford Brown, Nick Brown, Jody Yarbrough, Rad Brown, and Bobby Brown came from qualification in Division 1, where they finished third overall.

"Jack, I fish primarily for my sons," Radford told me after the event. "They love the sport and the SKA competition. We were with the rest of the fleet at the salt dome. It was without a doubt the greatest experience we've ever fished. It was nonstop throughout the entire time we were there; non-stop action. How could anyone not love it?"

"We caught and culled through somewhere between twenty-five to thirty fish over the six hours we were there," he went on to tell me. "We had the 39.70 in the boat early but it wasn't until 1:30 till we hooked up to the 49.17. We knew it was a good fish and hoped it would top fifty pounds." Eighteen-year-old Nick caught the fish and Bobby stuck her. "It was the biggest king we've ever caught," he added.

He ended the conversation with, "We treat this as a Christmas gift to our family and the time we spent together from preparation, to the Captain's party, the incredible fishing, and the friends we made as a great experience. We'll be back next year!"

This experience is exactly what the SKA is all about. It's not just about the fishing but the whole experience with friends and fishing!

Mark and Matt Sislak's Slack Time earned third place with an 86.30 two fish aggregate. They fished a Yamaha powered Contender, qualifying from Division 7.

"I can't tell you how much fun we had," Mark said. "We left check out, made a run, but had to stop for bait. Our destination was the Exxon. When we arrived there were a couple of boats already there hooked up but we were the first small boat." Mark went on to tell me, "the first two fish we caught were our biggest, a 45.49 and a 40.81. I caught the 45 and Matt caught the 40. We continued fishing, caught a lot of fish but none to replace our first two."

Mark went on to say that he hoped the rest of the teams there were impressed with the intensity of the fishing and the quality of the fish caught. I responded, "The Upper Gulf in November is the best fishing in the country. It's why we chose Biloxi. I just wish we could have a full solid week of nice weather to just see how many fish we could catch. We have fished the Nationals there when we scaled more than 20,000 pounds of fish." 

Fred Watkins Jr. had a great season in Division 7, winning it with a 142.06 three fish aggregate, the biggest aggregate in the whole Division. They earned fourth place in the Small Boat Division Championship fishing a Yamaha powered Contender named Get Layed.

Watkins, Ken Jansen, Todd (William) Gardner, Butch (Sherman) Smith, and Kayla Williamson went to the Exxon rig which was sixty-nine miles from the scale. "We knew the Horseshoe was the spot to be but so did everyone else."

The team lost bait from their bait pen the night before, or maybe someone got it, so they were at a disadvantage right from the start. "We literally went to five different places before finding enough bait to get started," Fred quipped. "We chose the Exxon because we felt that if the bite turned on it would be the same everywhere and we were right. Plus we were not in a pack of a hundred boats or more."

There were two to three boats already pulling nice kings from the water when they got there including Marcus Kennedy's Kwazar.

The team caught a lot of kings like everyone else but ended up scaling a 41.78 and a 40.40. "We had our shot," Fred told me. "We had two chances at what we estimate to be near sixty pounds or more each. Sharks got both of them. We saw both fish and one we got a part of back weighed forty-eight pounds. They were super kings! But that happens, especially in the Upper Gulf. It's just a part of fishing."

If Fred said he had the man on, you can take it to the bank! He and his team are highly respected among his peers.

Bo Audesey and his Georgia team brought the Code Red, a 23' Sea Quest, powered by Suzuki, to Biloxi with the thought of bringing the title back to Georgia. It almost happened. He and Hugh Robinson, Tristan Johnson, and Matthew Poulos, are all great fishermen but they came up a little short.

"We were fishing two miles north of the Horseshoe salt dome, just enough to get out of the pack but still close enough to get on the bite," explained Bo. "We fished with dead mullet and ribbonfish and had our shot also. We had a ribbon down when at 10:15 our big girl bit right through the leader. We ended up losing two like that."

They presented Chris, our official weigh master, with a nice 39.89 and a 39.41 for a 79.30 aggregate. Very respectable! This is still one of the best teams fishing the small boat division in the country!

The Bada Bing, a 23-foot Mercury powered Sea Craft, with Sammy and Steve Papia, Sam Papia Jr. plus Frank Mayo, qualified out of Division 6. They scaled a 42.14 and a 36.75 for a sixth place 78.89 aggregate.

"We got a late check out waiting for the bait guy but still got to the salt dome relatively early, explained Sammy. "We went to the west side of the nipple but with all the chum in the water from other boats drifting to the east we could only get the sharks to bite. We moved to the west and immediately bagged our thirty-six. The forty-two came later from a mullet off the downrigger. Like a lot of other teams we too lost a really big king right at the boat, but that's fishing."

"We lost a motor at the last Championship and couldn't fish so we were extremely happy that this one worked out so well," Sammy added. "Fishing with my father and brother is very special to us."

Sammy wanted to thank Mercury Outboards where he is on their Pro Team, West Marine in Orlando who helped with their new Garmin Electronics, and Handler Fishing Supply who helps them with their fishing supplies. "These people are the best," he added.

Clearly Hooked, a Yamaha powered Contender, scaled a 38.26 and a 37.94 for a seventh place 76.20 aggregate. On board were Austin Eubank, Margaret Pennstrom, John Theodorakis, and Brent Gainey. They qualified in Division 9 and also won the Division. Austin also fishes through the year with Stacy Wester who won Angler of the Year honors.

Saturday they were on their way to the Horseshoe when they spun a prop. After changing props they proceeded to their destination where they found their two good fish. Thank God for being prepared; it really pays off.

This is a very well disciplined team with tremendous potential. They proved it this weekend!

Rounding out the top eight places were Corey Durako, and Barry and Rod Bierstedt from Division 9 also. They scaled a 41.00 and a 35.09 for a 76.09 aggregate. They fished a Mercury powered Onslow Bay named Blew By U.

We certainly salute our Small Boat Division teams. They never fail to impress us with their determination and skill levels!



Small Boat Leaderboard Fish Scaled
Rank Boat # Team Information Fish 1 Fish 2 Total
1236STRIKE TWO
23' ONSLOW BAY / MERCURY
ROB LUPOLA
RAY MARTINEZ
KEN ODOM
JASON SPRATLEY
MIKE HENKE
61.9042.06103.96
2229BLUCHIPS
23' ONSLOW BAY / YAMAHA
RADFORD BROWN
NICK BROWN
JODY YARBROUGH
RAD BROWN
BOBBY BROWN
49.1739.7088.87
3247SLACK TIME
23' CONTENDER / YAMAHA
MARK SISLAK
MATT SISLAK
45.4940.8186.30
4227GET LAYED
23' CONTENDER / YAMAHA
FRED WATKINS, JR.
KEN JANSEN
TODD (WILLIAM) GARDNER
BUTCH (SHERMAN) SMITH
KAYLA WILLIAMSON
41.7840.4082.18
5238CODE RED
23' SEA QUEST / SUZUKI
BO AUDESEY
HUGH ROBINSON
TRISTAN JOHNSON
MATTHEW POULOS
39.8939.4179.30
6235BADA BING
23' SEA CRAFT / MERCURY
SAMMY PAPIA
STEVE PAPIA
FRANK MAYO
SAM PAPIA, JR.
42.1436.7578.89
7245CLEARLY HOOKED
23' CONTENDER / YAMAHA
AUSTIN EUBANK
MARGARET PENNSTROM
JOHN THEODORAKIS
BRENT GAINEY
38.2637.9476.20
8221BLEW BY U!
23' ONSLOW BAY / MERCURY
COREY DURAKO
BARRY BIERSTEDT
ROD BIERSTEDT
41.0035.0976.09
9241TEAM SPERRY / NET PROFIT
23' ONSLOW BAY / SUZUKI
BRYAN BAXTER
TREY GROVES
THOMAS HUTTO
MATT DeANTONIO
42.2533.7375.98
10218REEL BUZZ
23' ONSLOW BAY / YAMAHA
STEPHEN HOLLEY
CATHERINE HOLLEY
JOSH TUCKER
PAUL SUMNER
38.8735.9374.80
11233KNOT ME
23' CONTENDER / YAMAHA
BRIAN HASSON
JENNIFER SCHMID
HARRY THOMAS
37.9236.8074.72
12223TOP DOWN
23' ONSLOW BAY / MERCURY
JEFFRI DURRANCE
DAVID HOLIFIELD
JOE BAZENAS
37.9336.4974.42
13220ASSALTLINE
23' CONTENDER / YAMAHA
BRAD DRISKELL
CHARLES McLEMORE
ZELJKO VRECA
41.4032.2373.63
14246STRICTLY FISHING
23' CONTENDER / YAMAHA
PETER WEISBERG
ROBERT WEISBERG
38.5234.7873.30
15211BROTHERS IN LAW
22' SEA HUNT / YAMAHA
TED HAMMONDS
TIM WAYT
DAVID WAYT
37.5833.7871.36
16216SEA HAGG
23' CONTENDER / YAMAHA
CECIL CAPPS, JR.
LYNN NOLEN
GERRY RUCKER
LANDEN RUCKER
40.7630.2270.98
17212SECOND CATCH
23' CONTENDER / MERCURY
BURT FEREBEE
MARGARET FEREBEE
37.0333.2670.29
18222CARIBBEAN BREEZE / SEA DUB
23' ONSLOW BAY / MERCURY
CHRIS WILES
JEROME DRAWDY
BILLY WORST
BRAD KNIGHT
34.3933.9568.34
19244FIN-NAGLE
23' CAPE HORN / YAMAHA
RAYMOND PUGH
MARC KERNS
38.2529.9568.20
20240EAST COAST SPORTS
23' ONSLOW BAY / YAMAHA
RANDALL EDENS
COLE EDENS
GEORGE EDENS
CHRIS GADDY
34.5133.0567.56




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