Tournament – Kingfish Cup
Despite the fact that the weather didn’t initially want to cooperate, the inaugural Kingfish Cup Championship, held out of Ocracoke on November 12, ended up being a massive success. Tournament founder Brant McMullan had to delay the start of the tournament and change its format after a nasty cold front threatened to make offshore fishing conditions unsafe, so instead of catching one big king mackerel per day for three days, the 25 teams in the Championship were now tasked with getting the biggest two-fish aggregate in just a single day of fishing.
Team Liquid Fire and its captain, Mark Henderson, would be the ones to do it. Liquid Fire, which is comprised of Henderson, sons Crockett and Joshua, wife Audrey, and brother-in-law Chris Waters, pulled in four kings that day. Their top two fish weighed 35.90 and 24.35 lbs. respectively, which gave them an aggregate weight of 60.25 lbs. and $96,400 in prize money.
For the majority of the tournament, Henderson never felt one hundred percent comfortable. Not only was the weather less than ideal and the time to fish restricted, but Liquid Fire was fishing on a borrowed boat after their own had suffered significant damage at a previous tournament.
“Everybody was really scrambling and didn’t know what [the conditions] would do to the fish,” explained Mark. “Everybody was kind of in the same predicament, making sure they had bait, etc. We stopped at the AR where the bite was last week, but the water was muddy and there wasn’t a lot of bait.”
It wasn’t until they pushed offshore to the Smell wreck that things started to look up.
Mark explained, “The water got a little cleaner and went up a degree. There were a few boats already there, and it looked promising. We got our first strike around 9:15-9:30. Crockett was putting the short kingfish rod holder bait out, and once he was about to put the pole back in the rod holder, the fish hit. We couldn’t tell what it was exactly at first because it didn’t hit like a normal kingfish. Finally, the tail came up. Joshua saw it and said, ‘It’s a king. It’s a decent king!’”
Crockett would fight the king for 10-15 minutes before Joshua was able to make a gaff shot across the back. The 35.9 lb. fish would end up being the biggest king landed amongst all 25 teams.
Liquid Fire’s second largest fish, a 24.35 lb king, was caught 40 miles away after an hour long trip through 4-5’ seas that Henderson wasn’t sure would be worth it. Making it back to the scales with just seven minutes to spare, the hour long trip would turn out to be worth 96K.
Henderson said of winning the Cup, “It was a really cool thing that we will remember for a long time, and we appreciate the honor of being able to say, ‘Hey, we won this thing in its first year.’ It was special and very much appreciated. We’re thankful for the people we got to fish against and the great competition.”
The Liquid Fire team also wishes to thank all of their sponsors, as well as Scott Parsons and Doug Ford of the Carolina Kings for letting Liquid Fire borrow their boat. Finally, Mark wanted to thank “Brant and the McMullans for what they have done for the industry and for the sport.”
The Kingfish Cup Championship was the final tournament in the Kingfish Cup (comprised of TWTs in the Jolly Mon, Got ‘Em On, Fall Brawl, and Rumble in the Jungle tournaments). Registration for the 2017 Cup sold out in just four minutes, with spots going to the first 100 teams that signed up.
The top 25 teams with the highest three-fish aggregate in the qualifying Kingfish Cup tournaments were given an invitation to the Championship, which represented the best of the king mackerel anglers in the area. McMullan said that the Cup was designed for teams looking to be “rewarded for more consistency across events” and that he wanted to create “a platform to reward consistency and competitiveness across the season, and also open the playing field to larger dollar amounts.”
There was certainly quite a lot of close competition, especially at the Championship. The Kryptek Fishing Team and Capt. John Sims took second place with a 58.9 lb. aggregate, while Allen Wells and Reel Attitude and their 55.75 combined weight earned third place.
As for the Kingfish Cup returning for a sophomore run in 2018, don’t worry. McMullan says, “The series did go very well, and there’s been a lot of interest in expanding the tournament. We’re grateful for the success that we had this year, and we plan to make some tweaks and adjustments to make the 2018 Kingfish Cup even better.”
For more information on the Kingfish Cup and its Championship, you can visit www.kingfishcup.com.