Bald Head Island Fishing Rodeo
Continuing a hot streak that’s led them to three tournament wins since last November, the “Ocean Isle Fishing Center” team captured the heaviest tuna and heaviest dolphin of the event on their way to the 246.50 lb. aggregate weight that earned them the $7,560 first place check in the 2010 Bald Head Island Fishing Rodeo.
Capts. Brant and Barrett McMullan fished the event with fellow brothers Mike and Mark Kennedy aboard the 32’ “OIFC Yellowfin” and decided to gamble on a long run north of the area in their search for winning fish.
“I prefer to fish near home,” Brant McMullan explained, “but the fact is our Gulf Stream season has not been up to par this year.”
Acting on some information from a friend about a big dolphin bite with some scattered yellowfins, the anglers elected to launch their boat in Morehead City and run north.
After putting out lines in 600’ of water, it didn’t take long for their intel to prove correct.
“We found a fishy area with birds,” McMullan continued, “and no sooner set the spread than we were absolutely blasted by a school of yellowfin tuna.”
After every line they had in the water was struck by one of the speedy tunas, the anglers got to work and ended up boxing up five of the seven yellowfins they hooked.
The Bald Head Rodeo is unique in that it awards prizes based on the total poundage of qualifying fish (tuna and wahoo over 20 lbs. and dolphin over 15 lbs.), and after the chaos ended, the “OIFC” anglers began looking for another school of tunas to add to the poundage already on ice.
“We reset and looked all over the place but couldn’t find the tuna again,” McMullan said, “so we decided to run further offshore and look for a temperature edge and weedline to find the dolphin.”
After running another 20 miles, the anglers found what they were looking for in 3000’ of water and again found fast action as soon as they deployed the spread.
The bite was almost instantaneous, and after boxing up a few more qualifying fish, the anglers saw the one they’d been looking for.
“A monster came into the spread and bombed the teaser,” McMullan reported. “Barrett grabbed the flat line and put it in front of the fish and hooked up while we had three others on as well.”
The anglers were able to boat the big fish amidst the chaos, which ended up being the 48.15 lb. bull that was the largest brought to the scales during the event.
After continuing their assault on the dolphin for the remainder of the morning, the “OIFC” crew decided to head for the scales and see what their catch weighed.
“We were wore out and felt that we’d done what we came to do,” McMullan said, “so we headed for the scales.”
At the weigh-in, their 246.50 lb. aggregate broke the tournament’s one-day record, and the tired crew decided to sit out the second day of the competition.
As the scales closed on Day 2, the team still had the lead by over 100 lbs., securing their victory.
Climbing one spot from their 2009 third place finish, Carolina Beach’s Capt. Austin Eubank and the crew of the “Sandy Beach” took home second place and $3,780 for weighing 129.36 lbs. of qualifying fish.
Capt. Joey Johnson and the crew of the “Reel Quick” hauled in the $1,260 third place check for their 100.07 aggregate weight.
The tournament’s Billfish Release prize went to Eric Snover on the “Sarcastic,” whose sailfish release earned the team 50 points and $2,880.
Cindy Early on “The Office II” took home the tournament’s Lady Angler trophy by landing an 18.16 lb. dolphin, and Cameron Bailey on the “Lane Choice” captured a 21.51 lb. wahoo to earn the Junior Angler honors.
The Bald Head Island Fishing Rodeo is in its 19th year and attracted 21 boats for 2010. Proceeds from the event go to support the “Old Baldy Foundation,” an organization dedicated to preserving North Carolina’s oldest lighthouse.