Tournament Reports – US OPEN KMT
The 2019 U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament took place October 4-5 out of Southport Marina. Founded forty years ago in 1979, the mission of the annual U.S. Open is to showcase the great fall fishing that the Southport area has to offer.
The 496 boats that entered this year hit the water and enjoyed the sunshine while reeling in scattered king mackerel throughout the two days of fishing. This year’s big money-winning fish belonged to team “Nauti-Edition III,” from Wilmington, NC, and Capt. Robert Carr, whose 36.6 lb. fish won their team the $25,000 jackpot.
After the shotgun start to the tournament on Friday morning, Robert Carr and his crew members Jeffrey Masnick, David Clem, and Josh Carr sped off to net some bait. J. Carr, the cast net expert, had three live wells full of pogies after just four casts. The team encountered a slow morning bite, spending some time near Oak Island and then petering down towards Ocean Isle. After heading offshore a ways, they got a few hits but only reeled in juveniles.
“Something just told me to go fish the river channel, which I haven’t fished for about ten years,” said R. Carr. Using Blue Water Candy rigs with pink and white skirts and double-rigged naked pogies as bait, the team set up to troll. Just after 2:00 pm, the port side pink-skirted rig got hit, but the fish was lost almost as immediately as it had been hooked up. They kept on trolling across the strong current and were hit again shortly after, this time by what they were sure was a whopper.
“I thought it was going to smoke the whole reel,” said R. Carr.
With Masnick on the rod and Clem manning him, the team fought the king for what had to have been at least half an hour. J. Carr brought the titan on board with a nice, clean gaff. After celebrating with a round of high fives, they sped towards the scales and were delighted at the end of the day to see their names at the top of the leaderboard.
Saturday was much different than the day before, with lots of wind, cloudy skies, bigger waves, and churned up water making it difficult for anglers to get anything on the line. With not much action from the second day of fishing to compete with, the 36.6 lb. king held its title, earning team “Nauti-Edition III” the win and a total of $42,723 to take home.
“There were lots of competitive teams; we were just playing around. We’ve fished this tournament for 12 years and haven’t ever even placed, so winning came as a total surprise,” added R. Carr.
Landing in second place with a 36.2 lb. king was team “Daddy Rabbit,” and Capt. Brandon Dean, from Southport, NC.
Coming in third place with their stately catch weighing in at 34.7 lbs. was team “Frayed Knot II,” with Capt. Jeff M. Smith from Wilmington, NC.
Southport mayor Jerry Dove said, “Thanks so much for all our sponsors, volunteers, Southport Marina, Chamber of Commerce, and all the fishermen, women, and children who participated in this wonderful event.”
For more information on the U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament and to see a complete leaderboard list, visit their website at www.usopenkmt.com.