Sneads Ferry KMT
Wind and rain are regularly cursed by anglers, but Hampstead, NC’s Jodie Gay and the “Blue Water Candy” crew probably didn’t end up minding the squall that led them to the 52.60 lb. king mackerel that sank the competition and earned them the win at the 2013 Sneads Ferry King Mackerel Tournament.
Along with son-in-law Russel Weaver, Wayne Hewett, and boat owner David Mason aboard a 23T Onslow Bay center console, Gay headed for the east side of Lookout Shoals early on Saturday, August 17, the morning of competition. Weeklong commitments had kept the crew from any pre-fishing, but they made their way to the George Summerlin reef, just east of the shoals and where the winner of last week’s Onslow Bay Open KMT was caught.
“Early on we caught a 30-pounder,” Gay said. “There was tons of rain that day and waterspouts—it was just ugly—and we were glad to have that fish.”
As the morning progressed, the weather continued to be less than ideal, and the crowd of boats who’d arrived at the Summerlin that morning began to thin out. The weather deteriorated further as a heavy squall hit, and the “Blue Water Candy” anglers shifted from fishing mode to simply taking shelter.
“There was just an absolute downpour,” Gay continued. “I just kept the boat into the wind to try and keep us a little dry. Once we got through that, we were way off the Summerlin, probably closer to the 30 Minute Rock, but there was a bait ball in front of us.”
Trolling past the bait ball, the crew got a strike on a live menhaden under a Blue Water Candy Private Stock skirt, but the fish didn’t act like the one they were looking for when it bit.
Weaver grabbed the rod while Mason cleared lines, and the anglers began pursuing their still-unseen fish.
“That fish never ran 100 yards,” Gay explained. “It went down under the boat and stayed there. I thought it was probably a tuna or albacore.”
The fish continued to stay low and circle instead of expending energy on runs for the better part of 15 minutes before Weaver got a look at it.
“Russell saw it and said it wasn’t an albacore,” Gay said. “He got another look and told us it was going to be an upgrade. I didn’t get a look at it because I couldn’t leave the helm—I’ve never spent so much time in reverse fighting a king.”
Soon after the first sighting, Weaver worked the fish a bit higher in the water column and Hewett was able to reach deep and plant a gaff in it.
“I saw him reach down and about get pulled over the rail,” Gay continued. “I came over to see if we needed another gaff and he swung it over the rail. When I saw that fish hit the deck, I said ‘boys, we’re done’.”
Packing the king in ice and their gear away, the “Blue Water Candy” anglers headed for Sneads Ferry and the scales, where they waited in the rain for the weigh-in to open. The first fish weighed, their king never left the top spot on the leaderboard.
Also waiting for the opening of the scales were Ned Grady and the “Hot Grits” crew, from Kinston, NC, whose 43.98 lb. king ended up finishing second in the event. Pittsboro’s “Black Gold” fishing team brought home third place with a 35.24 lb. fish.
More information on the Sneads Ferry King Mackerel Tournament and a full leaderboard are available at www.sneadsferryrotary.com.