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Tournament Reports – Wide Open Tech Spanish Mackerel Open

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Two tournament records were set at this year’s Wide Open Tech Spanish Mackerel Open, a kid-friendly, captain’s choice spanish mackerel tournament based out of Wild Wing Cafe with the weigh-in at Motts Seafood. The winning team posted a record three-fish aggregate weight total, and more kids than ever before fished the event.

Team Ambush, comprised of Chris Hunt and Eric Gowdy, both of Wilmington, took the top spot with an exclamation point, bringing in a three-spanish total weight of 12.86 lbs.

“We had a plan going in, and we stuck to the plan,” Hunt stated about Saturday, the team’s selected fishing day.

Hunt and Gowdy were on the water by 5:00, had bait in the livewell by 5:45, and made the run down the river to Southport and dropped lines off the coast of Oak Island by 6:40.

The team had the right size menhaden they wanted (4-5”), worked back and forth in the waters around Yaupon Reef, and set out all of their baits rigged on Blue Water Candy two-hook, live bait spanish rigs.

Eric Gowdy (left) and Chris Hunt won the 2019 Wide Open Tech Spanish Mackerel Open and over $1200 in prize money with a three-spanish aggregate weight of 12.86 lbs. They caught their fish live baiting off of Oak Island.

“They were the holographic rigs, and the spanish couldn’t help but see them. They were pink-ish and blue-ish and green-ish,” Hunt continued. “We caught all three big fish that we weighed in by 8:00.” And that was fortuitous because at around 7:00 the wind shifted from south-southeast to east, and that wind change completely shut the bite down.

Around 12:00 noon, the wind died down and shifted again, and that’s when the team missed a spanish at the boat that was bigger than the three they ultimately weighed in, but at 12:30 they made the run back up the river and into the ICW to make it to the scales by 2:00.

Their three fish weighed 4.20, 4.77, and 3.89 lbs., and that was more than enough to bring them over $1200 in prize money.

Team Booger, captained by Derek Cox of Leland, finished in second place with an aggregate total of 7.02 lbs. Their three fish weighed 1.19, 1.03, and 4.80 lbs.

Cox was fishing with Dan Crowningshield, and since they weren’t able to find any bait, they headed straight for the Liberty Ship and put out planer/spoon combos.

Their big spanish, which was also the tournament’s single biggest, was the team’s first fish of the day, hitting a size 0 Clarkspoon behind a #2 planer.

They picked up some more spanish at the Liberty Ship, and a few more at John’s Creek, but the team’s other two fish that they weighed came just outside Masonboro Inlet, as the team saw a bunch of birds working the waters around the rocks on their way in to the scales.

Derek Cox (left) and Dan Crowningshield, of Team Booger, came in second in the Wide Open Tech Spanish Mackerel Open with an aggregate weight of 7.02 lbs., including the tournament’s single heaviest spanish at 4.80 lbs.

Team Booger’s prize earnings totaled over $1100.

Third place went to Team Piscivore and Tom Newbill, of Hampstead. Their aggregate weight was 4.98 lbs.

As for the kids, a tournament-high 40 youth anglers fished in this year’s event, with ages ranging from 3-17 years old. The top Junior Angler (ages 0-8) went to Nico Buffalini with a 1.74 lb. spanish. Both the top Pre-Teen Angler (ages 9-12) and Teen Angler (ages 13-17) awards went to the family team of Piscivore. In the Pre-Teen category it was Paxton and Payleigh Newbill, and for the Teens it was Parker and Paiton Newbill.

A more complete leaderboard can be found at