Just by the skin of a bent treble hook, the Yates Sea crew headed back to Mt. Pleasant as winners of the Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned Marshwalk Kingstalk Saturday at Crazy Sister Marina in Murrells Inlet.
The crew, headed by the duo of father David L. Yates and son Capt. David C. Yates, weighed in a 39.05-pound king mackerel to claim prize money of $15,500, plus captured first place in SKA’s Division 3 (South Carolina).
While the Yates Sea king easily topped second-place finisher Big Bad Wolf, with a 32.96-pounder, by nearly seven pounds, Yates Sea narrowly won the division title as the Marshwalk Kingstalk was the final event in the division.
Yates Sea and Ripple Effect both fished three of the five tournaments in the division. Yates Sea’s three-fish total was 95.68 pounds, just ounces in front of Ripple Effect with 95.39.
The 25 boats in the Open Class and the top 20 boats in the Small Boat Class in the final standings of each SKA division qualify for The SKA Nationals Nov. 8-11 in Biloxi, Miss.
“We’re going to Biloxi, with bells on,” Capt. David C. Yates said.
Rounding out the top five at Crazy Sister Marina were Seahorse (31.72), Ripple Effect (27.84) and Low Country Native (27.43). Miss Jenn IV won the Small Boat Class with a 26.40-pound king.
Boats competing in the tournament were able to depart from any inlet between Seabrook Island and Topsail Beach, N.C., and the Yates Sea crew headed out from Charleston Harbor.
Capt. Yates, operator of Yates Sea Charters in Shem Creek in Mt. Pleasant, headed to an area about 25 miles due east of the Charleston jetties in 75 feet of water.
“We came across a bunch of Spanish, acres of them,” Yates said. “We stayed amongst them and we caught a fish about 15 pounds and we saw a couple guys catch some fish. We were getting ready to move to another spot.
“I said ‘We’re not going to leave until we get past the big school of Spanish.’ We got in the middle of them and there she was.”
The king took a menhaden (pogy) with Capt. Yates serving as the angler, his dad the gaff man and Clinton Beck of Charleston driving the 33-foot Contender powered by triple Yamaha 250 four strokes.
“It was about a 15-18 minute fight and I felt the first hook pull out after 10-12 minutes,” Yates said. “I told everybody to be calm, relax I’ll get it up eventually. I finally got it to where the old man could reach [the fish with the gaff].”
With the king safely on the deck, they noticed it was barely hooked.
“The only thing holding that fish on was a bent treble hook,” Yates said. “It was complete luck right there for that mama to come in. If she had made one more run she probably would have gotten away. It was nothing to pull that hook out [of the fish once it was in the boat].”
The fight and the fishing day for the crew was over at 11 a.m., and all that was left was to make the run to Murrells Inlet for the weigh-in.
“We caught the fish at 11 a.m., made sandwiches, ate lunch and took our time getting there,” Yates said. “It would have been a 50-pound fish if she had been fat, but it looked like she was at least 40 pounds.”
Indeed, the fish weighed just a shade under 40 pounds at the weigh-in before the crowd at The Marsh Walk and the Yates Sea crew claimed the win. Now it’s on to Biloxi.
The SKA Top Junior Anglers in the tournament were Madison Morris aboard Seahorse (31.72), Andrew Olsen aboard Knot @ Work (24.84) and Will Lowry aboard Blue Ice Bandit (21.39).
The other crew members aboard Yates Sea were Lou Tocci of Columbia and Frank Hill of Sumter.
Rumble In The Jungle
The SKA returns to the area next weekend with a tournament in Division 9 (Carolinas) – the 10th annual Rumble in the Jungle out of Harbourgate Marina in Little River.
Registration and captains meeting is set for September 28 and fishing for September 29. Call the marina (843-249-8888) or John Gore Jr. (843-602-3376) for more information.
Prince George Tournament
The Prince George Winyah Inshore Tournament will be held September 29 out of Georgetown Landing Marina. Eligible species are red drum (spottails), spotted seatrout (speckled trout) and flounder.
For more information, call the marina at 843-546-1776.