The smoker king mackerel showed up where they were expected to for last weekend’s Fall Brawl out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center, and the majority of the 196-boat field fished in that vicinity.
The vicinity of the Cape Fear River Channel was the area where the kings, and tournament boats, congregated and it produced numerous fish that weighed in at over 30 pounds.
Capt. Austin Eubank of Carolina Beach, N.C., and his three-person crew aboard Clearly Hooked were the fishermen that worked the area and were fortunate enough to hook up with the biggest king.
With conditions and the location of the king bite ideal for small boats, Eubank, his fiancé, Margaret Pennstrom and Shane Barry caught the winning 39.65-pounder aboard Eubank’s 23-foot Contender.
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The top three fish were caught by boats in the 23-under division, and tournament director Capt. Brant McMullan estimates 16 of the top 20 kings were landed from the Cape Fear River Channel/Sea Buoy area or Lighthouse Rocks.
“That was where the larger fish had congregated, which is very typical for this time of year,” said McMullan.
The huge majority of the boats – 157 – elected to fish on Saturday, the first day of fishing. Clearly Hooked was among them, and worked the river channel area.
“We were a little west of the old river channel,” said Eubank. “You could probably see 100 boats around us but there were a pack of 10 boats within a mile of us.”
Fishing with live pogeys (menhaden), the trio quickly found some good king action Saturday morning.
“We missed two right off the bat,” said Eubank. “Then we caught a 34 (pounder). I was letting the bait back out and the 39 hit – took the line out of my hand. It made a couple of 200-yard runs, we turned on it and then got on top of it.”
Pennstrom served as the angler, with Eubank gaffing the fish.
“We feel very fortunate to get the bite,” said Eubank. “You try to fish where the winning fish comes from and it’s all up to who gets the bite after that. If it’s caught within a mile of you that’s about as close as you can get. All you can do is hope to put yourself in the right spot then it’s all a matter of who gets the bite from there.”
Eubank, who operates Clearly Hooked Fishing Charters out of Carolina Beach, has great success in this Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) event and others in SKA’s Division 9.
Two years ago he won the Rumble in the Jungle out of Little River and earlier this year finished third in the S.H.A.R.E. King Mackerel Tournament out of Wilmington, N.C.
Eubank notes the Clearly Hooked crew has won the division three of the past four years, including this year. Pennstrom was the division’s Lady Angler of the year for 2014.
Next stop is the SKA Nationals in Biloxi, Miss., Nov. 3-9. Eubank’s best finish in the Nationals was third place.
Clearly Hooked earned $19,306 for the victory at the OIFC. Such prize money, including any earned in a few weeks at Biloxi, will come in handy for Eubank and Pennstrom. The couple have set a date of April 11, 2015 to get married.
“We’re excited,” said Eubank. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The SKA Nationals, and the wedding, that is.
| Corey Durako and the crew of Blew By U! of Wilmington, N.C., finished second with a 38.25-pound king followed by Alan Holden of Hold’n On of Holden Beach, N.C. in third with a 36.85-pounder.
The size of fish weighed in was good, with the top 13 all weighing over 30 pounds.
Total payout for the tournament was $87,000.
For more information on the tournament, visit www.oifc.com.
The start of Martini’s Hook-A-Hoo Rodeo, targeting wahoo, is approaching fast. The event will be held Wednesday through Nov. 9 with competing boats allowed to fish one of those days.
The tournament features four weigh-in sites, Harbourgate Marina in Little River, South Harbour Village Marina in Southport, N.C., Motts Channel Seafood in Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and Chasin’ Tails Outdoors in Atlantic Beach, N.C. Entry fee is $420.
For more information, call (910) 612-1938 or visit www.hookahoo.com.
The second tournament in the Student Angler League Tournament Trail (SALTT) will be held Saturday out of Little River. The trail is designed for middle and high school students and targets red drum. All fish weighed in are released.
For more information on competing on the trail, visit www.salttfishing.com. To reach trail coordinator Rayburn Poston, click on the website’s Contact tab.