In a tournament touted for its family atmosphere, Holden Beach, N.C., resident Robert Galletto and his two sons landed a 36.15-pound king mackerel to top the 230-boat field and win the Jolly Mon King Classic Sunday out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center.
Galletto and his sons, Ben of Holden Beach and Rob of Charlotte, N.C., were among 130 boats that chose Saturday as their fishing day with the other 100 fishing on Sunday.
The Gallettos, fishing aboard Par-Five, a 26-foot 1977 Bertram newly converted to a center console, headed out of Lockwood Folly Inlet and started trying to net pogeys (menhaden) for bait.
A common theme for the tournament, pogeys were hard to find.
“We looked for pogey, which we normally fish with, but nobody could find any,” said Robert Galletto.
The trio also tried jigging bait on a bottom spot but to no avail.
The back-up plan was to use dead cigar minnows, and the crew started fishing at Christina’s Ledge.
After an hour of no success, they moved to The Jungle and began catching kings in 60-65 feet of water.
After catching four small kings, the fifth fish was the charm.
Ben Galletto was the angler for a short 10-minute fight before his Dad gaffed the fish. With the smoker king aboard, the trio knew they had a shot.
“We knew it was in the running,” said Robert Galletto. “Normally in this tournament the winning fish is in the 35-40 pound class. We knew it was about 30 pounds.”
The 36.15-pounder held up through the first day, then there was Sunday, a day of waiting, and hoping the fish remained atop the leaderboard for the Gallettos.
“It was like a nail-biter for a day,” said Robert Galletto.
On Sunday evening, the Par-Five fishing team was declared the winner of the Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned tournament, the first in SKA’s Division 9.
“It was the first time we’ve won a king mackerel tournament,” said Robert Galletto. “It was kind of surreal. Holy mackerel, literally holy mackerel – we did it.”
The top three fish weighed in were caught on Saturday despite a round of afternoon thunderstorms.
Tommy McAlister and crew aboard Reel Determined finished second with a 33.45 pounder, just barely beating the third place boat, Chris Nealon and crew aboard Wild Wing Café with a 33.3-pounder.
Bruce Gallup and the Part Time crew weighed in the biggest fish on Sunday, a 32.75-pounder good for fourth place. Jeff Morris and the TriggerMack crew claimed fifth with a 32.15-pounder.
Blake Widenhouse was the top junior angler with a 25.6-pound king caught aboard Coming In Hot.
The top lady angler was Margaret Pennstrom with a 22.9-pound king caught aboard Clearly Hooked.
The largest cobia was a 59-pounder caught aboard High Cotton, the largest dolphin was an 11.35-pounder caught aboard Salty Nuts and the largest Spanish mackerel was a 5.8-pounder caught aboard Carolina Cat.
For full results from the tournament, visit www.OIFC.com.