Fish Post

Tournament – Spanish Mackerel Open

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Topping a field of 31 boats in this year’s Wide Open Tech Spanish Mackerel Open was Team Square Grouper weighing in an aggregate of 9.55 lbs. The event, held June 15-17 at Wild Wing Café with weigh-in at Motts Channel Seafood, featured a captain’s choice format, with boats able to select Saturday or Sunday as their one fishing day, and the seven place leaderboard was determined by a boat’s heaviest three-spanish aggregate.

Square Grouper, made up of Nick Loeber, Ben Avolis, and Zach Illing, struggled a little to castnet live bait on Saturday morning, but they finally found the menhaden they were looking for in the Trail’s End area. They then headed to the Liberty Ship with a livewell, or rather “deadwell,” of 3-4” pogies.

“Our ‘deadwell’ was a 20 gallon Brute trashcan we bought from Lowe’s,” explained Loeber. “Every 15 minutes we would stop and use buckets to rotate out the water. We didn’t have an aerator.”

The team also didn’t have any electronics on board the 20’ flat bottom Bayrider, but they figured that a dive boat anchored offshore of Masonboro Inlet in the general vicinity of the AR had to be set up on one end of the sunken ship. They used the dive boat to help guide them.

Team Square Grouper with the winning three-spanish aggregate in the 2018 Wide Open Tech Spanish Mackerel Open. The two biggest (5.5 and 3.45 lbs.) were caught on live bait at the Liberty Ship.

“It was a wet ride out, and we took a few over the bow,” said Loeber, “but we got where we thought we would be making drifts over the wreck.”

They floated out four pogies on four lines. A couple of lines rigged with fluoro got bit off, so they started using wire leader.

“The fish didn’t shy away from the wire,” Loeber added, and soon they had their first spanish of the day in the boat, a 3.45 lb. fish reeled in by Illing and netted by Avolis.

Then the team boated their second spanish, the 5.5 lb. fish, but that would be the only two spanish they caught at the Liberty Ship.

Knowing the tournament was a three-fish leaderboard, they came back to the beach and trolled Clarkspoons, soon picking up their third fish before heading to the scales.

“We used the knowledge we gathered,” noted Loeber, “from the Fisherman’s Post Morehead City Saltwater Fishing School. There everyone said that live bait gets the good ones.”

The MarineMax Fishing Team (Kyle Huffman, Matt Rienks, and Jesse Medeiros) took second place with a three-fish weight of 7.10 lbs., and they topped the two spanish TWTs to take home a combined $1300 in the 2018 Wide Open Tech Spanish Mackerel Open.

The team also wanted to thank Marine Warehouse, who worked on their boat up until 5:00 pm on Friday to get them ready for the tournament.

Second place went to the MarineMax Fishing Team that weighed in a three-spanish aggregate of 7.10 lbs. They also took first place in both the Single Spanish TWT and the Three Spanish TWT, bringing home more than $1300 in prize money.

In third place was Cross Roads Insurance with 5.75 lbs. of spanish.

For more information, including a complete leaderboard, please visit