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Tournament Report – U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament

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What do you spend $108,716 in KMT prize money on? Capt. Dieter Cardwell, who won the 2018 U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament along with the rest of team Tide Line (Mike Lundy, Kevin Alley, and Alex Ferm), laughs in reply, “We might buy Kevin a new shirt.”

For 40 years, the two-day U.S. Open KMT has been a highly competitive North Carolina fishing event and one of the largest king mackerel tournaments on the east coast. With a guaranteed first place prize of $25,000, guaranteed cash for the top 55 teams, multiple TWTs, and a variety of special weight and secondary prizes, it’s also an incredibly lucrative event, as Kevin Alley’s soon-to-be updated wardrobe can attest to.

Tide Line’s beautiful 37.20 lb. king mackerel, which they weighed in just an hour before the scales closed, hit a trolled pogie around 11:00 am on Saturday.

“It was a pretty day, pretty trip, and everything went well,” says Cardwell. “We caught about fifty pogies and started fishing right there.” They would catch an 18 and a 23 lb. fish before the big king hit.

“It ran back toward the boat at first,” Cardwell said, describing the battle, and it didn’t stop, heading straight for the short line. “Tim and Mike were fighting the fish, and Kevin grabbed the short line and had to the run around the other line once the fish started burning it down. After that, it was a standard fight. Kevin made a good gaff.”

Second place in the tournament went to Beeracuda for a 36.05 lb. fish, and third place was won by Service Call, who pulled in a 35.45 lb. king.

Held out of Southport Marina, the 2018 U.S. Open KMT also served as the first major event in Southport following Hurricane Florence, which highlighted the resilience of the town and its fishery. Working with the Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce, the tournament donated $1,500 to hurricane relief efforts.