Outdoors column: Changes in store for Southern Kingfish Association

Changes are at hand for the Southern Kingfish Association (SKA), the famed tour that partners with competitive king mackerel tournaments throughout the Southeast from North Carolina to Louisiana and stages an annual national championship event.

The National Boat Owners Association (NBOA), based out of Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday announced it has acquired the Southern Kingfish Association and Tournament Trail.

Jack Holmes and his wife Deona had been involved with SKA since its inception in 1991 and were part of a group that owned and coordinated the tournament trail since 2001. Under their guidance, SKA expanded to where it is regarded as the largest saltwater tournament trail in the world.

“This is a wonderful day,” said Jack Holmes earlier this week. “I’ve had the opportunity to work with NBOA for the past five years and feel very comfortable that it’s in good hands. I feel they embrace the same competitive spirit that our Board of Directors envisioned when they took control of the company in 2001.”

The new owners expect to sanction 40 tournaments in 2014 from North Carolina through Florida on the Atlantic Coast and from Florida to Louisiana on the Gulf Coast, which will make up the Mercury Tournament Trail. All the SKA sanctioned events are open to the general fishing community.

“It was a natural move to assume ownership of an entity we’ve worked so closely with over the years,” said NBOA Vice President Jeffrey Berndt. “We’re just happy we’re able to see this sport through, and able to give the anglers and fellow sponsors what they want.

“Expect good things from the NBOA team. We’re excited and can’t wait to get started.”

A press release from NBOA stated its staff will be working closely with SKA board members and anglers to ensure a smooth transition. The primary focus for 2014 is to reconnect with anglers and increase participation across the Southeast.

SKA’s magazine will continue to be printed and the SKA website, www.fishska.com, will be maintained under the new ownership. Visit the website for more information and to find the 2014 schedule of tournaments.

Chad’s Red

It was a doozy of a catch for 4-year-old Chad Hawley last Saturday at the point in Murrells Inlet.

Chad was fishing with his dad, Chris Hawley of Murrells Inlet, at the point in the inlet, a spot much more well-known for swimming, hanging out and, well, partying.

After a largely unsuccessful attempt at catching flounder in the inlet’s back creeks earlier in the day, the Hawleys pulled up on the beach at the point, and tossed a live mud minnow out from the back of the boat on a Carolina rig.

Soon, the rod bent over and after his Dad set the hook, Chad reeled in the feisty mystery fish all the way to the beach. The trio, including David Jaroszewski of Myrtle Beach, was thrilled to see that, indeed, Chad had caught his first red drum, a nice 25-incher.

They also noticed the redfish had a tag embedded just below its dorsal fin. The senior Hawley took note of the number on the tag before they successfully released the fish.

Early this week, Chris Hawley contacted John Archambault, Fishery Biologist with S.C. DNR’s Marine Resources Research Institute and was provided with the history of the tagged fish.

It turns out little Chad’s first redfish provided quite a study of the growth and movement of red drum in area waters, as the fish had been tagged as part of S.C. DNR’s Red Drum Tagging Program.

The fish was tagged by an angler at Mother Norton Shoal in Winyah Bay on June 19, 2012. At the time, the red drum measured 22.1 inches and was a 2-year-old specimen.

In almost two years, the fish had grown three inches to its current length of 25 inches and moved into the ocean to travel to Murrells Inlet before the Hawleys caught and released it.

Seacoast anglers meeting

The Seacoast Anglers Association will hold a meeting Monday, 6:30 p.m., at the VFW Post 10804, located at Hwy. 57 and Hwy. 9 in Little River. Guest speaker will be Capt. Michelle Drake of Getaway Adventures. Social hour begins at 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 843-877-6575 or email SeacoastAnglers@aol.com. Also, visit www.seacoastanglersassociation.com.