With pesky Tropical Storm Julia meandering well offshore and kicking up some nasty seas, Keith Powell of Low Country Native said, in essence, “let’s go for it” Sunday in the Rumble in the Jungle King Mackerel Tournament out of Little River.
Powell and his three fishing partners aboard the 42-foot Renaissance catamaran headed 20 miles southeast in rough conditions to The Jungle, the tournament’s namesake.
With no action to be found at that bottom spot, the Low Country Native crew decided to join much of the field of 143 boats and fish along the beach. After a jarring run to the vicinity of the Oak Island (N.C.) Pier, Powell and company landed a tournament-best 31.54-pound king mackerel.
Powell, a Charleston resident and native of Beaufort, was fishing with fishing partner Jason Hogg, brother Billy Powell and Joey Essary. The crew took home over $37,000 for the win in the Southern Kingfish Association Division 3 (South Carolina) and Division 9 (Carolinas) event.
“Still living the dream,” Powell said on Wednesday. “It was all luck.”
After catching only a shark at The Jungle, the crew decided to head to the Oak Island Pier area facing a stiff northeast wind along the way.
“We figured we would end our day on the beach with everybody else. It was a choppy 3-5 foot seas with the occasional mountain,” Powell said of the run to the beach. “That was brutal.”
Powell estimated 60 other boats were fishing the Oak Island Pier vicinity in water that “looked like sweet tea.”
“We put out a spread in 25 feet of water, and she hit a downrigger at 18 feet (deep),” Powell said. “I grabbed the rod and she made two nice runs offshore, so we knew it was a decent fish. We got on top of her, she made a couple circles and Jason stuck her with the cold, hard steel.”
After boating the fish, the crew began to get an idea it could place very well in the tournament.
“We thought 30-35 pounds, nice top 10 fish,” Powell said. “We listened to the radio and not many people were weighing fish and we started getting anxious.”
The crew continued fishing to try to catch an upgrade but wound up with only the one king bite on the day. They checked in for the weigh-in at 4:38 p.m., before the deadline of 5 p.m.
Low Country Native’s 31.54-pounder was the lone 30-pound king weighed in and beat the second-place boat, Leo Gettz and crew with a 29.17-pounder.
“We had no idea it would hold up,” Powell said.
Jerry Fehlig’s Game Hawg took third with a 28.03-pounder, Capt. Joe Winslow’s Coastal Carolina University crew was fourth with a 25.77-pounder and C-Sick rounded out the top five with a 24.98-pound king.
Only 23 kings were weighed in by the 143-boat field, with Relentless weighing the only king in the Single Engine Class.
With so much guaranteed prize money left on the table, tournament director John Gore said the remaining money was divided among all the other boats.
“It’s the only tournament in which everybody that caught a fish gets a check and everybody who didn’t weigh a fish gets a check,” Gore said with a laugh.
Low Country Native also won the Open Class in the first SKA Division 3 event, the James Island Yacht Club King Mackerel Tournament in late July.
Powell and crew hold a commanding lead going into the final tournament of the season in Division 3 – the Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout to be held out of Marlin Quay Marina in Murrells Inlet Oct. 21-22.
Hooligan claimed its third top-five finish of the SKA season with its fourth-place finish.
Winslow, a professor of instructional technology at CCU and a resident of Sunset Beach, N.C., is joined by current or former members of CCU’s Saltwater Angler Club to serve as the crew in SKA tournaments.
Winslow and his Chanticleer crew won the East Coast Got Em On tournament in Carolina Beach, N.C., and finished second by one-tenth of a pound in the S.H.A.R.E. King Mackerel Tournament in Wilmington, N.C., both in July.
Hooligan holds a big lead in SKA Division 9 going into the division finale – the Yellowfin/Yamaha Fall Brawl King Classic Oct. 7-9 at Ocean Isle Fishing Center.
IFA Redfish Tour
The IFA Redfish Tour is back in Georgetown this weekend with the second and final stop in the tour’s Atlantic Division to be staged at the Carroll Ashmore Campbell Marine Complex, located on U.S. 17 on the Sampit River.
Fishing was to be held on Saturday, with the weigh-in beginning at 3 p.m. The public is invited to attend the weigh-in at the Campbell Marine Complex.
SALTT Flounder Fundraiser
This event to benefit the Student Angler League Tournament Trail will be held Oct. 8 in Murrells Inlet out of Marshview Marina.
Captains meeting will be held Oct. 7, 5 p.m. at Murrells Inlet Outpost, with the weigh-in slated for Marshview Marina on Oct. 8.
Early bird entry is $30 for adults and $10 for kids by Sept. 30. The cost goes up to $40 for adults and $20 for kids starting Oct. 1.
Competing anglers have the option to weigh-in a live flounder and receive a .25-pound bonus for that fish, which would be released after the weigh-in.
The tournament is a 50/50 event, with a 50 percent payout and 50 percent benefiting SALTT, a tournament trail for middle or high school age students that are registered in a public, private or home school. The trail has separate divisions for bass and red drum.
The first SALTT event of the 2016-17 school year will be held Oct. 15 at the Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.
S.C. CATT Championship
The Conway duo of Chris Jones and Ed Owens won the Carolina Anglers Team Trail S.C. Championship on Sunday at the Campbell Marine Complex in Georgetown.
Jones and Owens weighed in a two-day aggregate of 23.39 pounds of bass, topping a field of 60 boats and winning $6,700.
Casey Warren and Wesley Carroll were second with 22.71 pounds and won $2,700. Scott Peavy and Wayne Marlow took third with a 22.25-pound aggregate, good for $1,500.
Kevin Alford and Gary Pope were fourth with 20.96 pounds. Calvin Clatterbuck and Britt Brown rounded out the top five with 20.58 pounds.
Gregg Holshouser: email@example.com