Martini’s Fall Hook-A-Hoo Rodeo
Leaving their competition 20 lbs. behind them, Kirk North and the “North Offshore” scaled a 70.70 lb. wahoo to earn first place in the 2012 Martini’s Fall Hook-A-Hoo Rodeo, held out of Wrightsville Beach and Southport on November 2-17.
Running a 27’ Southport out of Topsail Inlet, North and teammates Derek Sox, Mark Fortier, and twin junior anglers Ren and Vance Fortier fished on the first calm day following Hurricane Sandy and an extended nor’easter and took their team name literally on the day of competition.
“Most of the other boats headed south,” North explained, “but we decided to go north hoping that all the northeast wind had pushed the fish from Morehead down the break.”
Preparing for the event, the anglers found conditions they liked on a satellite temperature shot along the break around the 265 Line and made their game plan.
“We were looking for a hard break around some structure,” North continued, “and we found it. There was a 3-4 degree break on top of a 50’ ledge, and it was still right there when we got offshore.”
The anglers set out a ballyhoo spread along the spot, a drop-off in 220-270’ of water with a hard temperature edge going from 72-76 degrees, and they didn’t have to wait long for action.
“We got into a sailfish right away,” said the winning captain, “and then a couple tunas and plenty of bonito, so we knew we were in the right spot.”
The early action didn’t include any wahoo bites, but the anglers stuck it out as the morning wore on. The team was soon rewarded for their persistence.
“The wahoo bite turned on like a light switch,” North explained. “That was around 11:00.”
The action was suddenly fast and furious, and they’d landed several fish around 50 lbs. when their big fish struck. A ballyhoo under an orange/red/black Bluewater Candy skirt fooled the fish on their long shotgun line.
“We had the kids alternating reeling them in,” North recalled, “and I think Ren caught the big one. He had a 50 wide in top gear, and we did a lot of backing up with the boat to get to that fish.”
Around 25 minutes after the bite, the “North Offshore” crew sank a gaff in their biggest fish of the day.
“We had no idea it was such a pig until it hit the deck,” North continued. “The hook fell out as soon as we got it in the boat, so we were lucky to get it in.”
The anglers continued trolling briefly but headed for Wrightsville Beach and the scales around 1:00, with seven wahoo and a fat blackfin tuna in the fish boxes.
“We had to leave them biting because we ran out of places to put fish in the boat,” North said. “Mark fishes out of Morehead a lot and called some of those boats down to the spot, and they caught a bunch after we left.”
Guessing their big fish at between 60-65 lbs., the anglers were thrilled to see it weighed 70 once it hit the scales.
Participants still had a week to try and top the “North Offshore” fish, but deteriorating weather meant most of those days weren’t fishable, and the team held onto first place.
John Munroe and “The Office II” crew scaled a 50.75 lb. wahoo good for second place, and Joe Elphick on the “Box Office” rounded out the top three with a 46.80 lb. ‘hoo.
The Martini’s Fall Hook-A-Hoo Rodeo is a spin-off of a popular spring event out of North Myrtle Beach and raises funds for the Children of the Carolinas Shriners’ Hospitals. More information about the cause and event is available at www.hookahoo.com.