A year ago, Brian Aycock and his 15-year old son Austin had about as rough of an experience imaginable at the Southern Kingfish Association’s National Championship in Biloxi, Miss.
While trying to make the long run in from 80 miles offshore in heavy seas to beat the weigh-in deadline, serious damage was done to the Aycocks’ 23-foot Seacraft, which was built in 1974.
“It was really rough and you’re fishing 80 miles offshore down there,” said Brian Aycock. “I thought we had plenty of time, but we broke a lot of stuff trying to get back in. People were like, you might as well buy something new.”
But after the ordeal, the Aycocks, residents of Shallotte, N.C., decided to rebuild the boat -- not an easy task.
“We had to go down to the hull of the boat to rebuild it,” said Brian Aycock.
Over the last year leading up to the SKA National Championship, the Aycocks, including Austin’s 13-year-old brother Brandon, put much hard work into rebuilding the boat.
With the boat finally ready to go, Brian and Austin Aycock took off last week towing the Hail Yeah/OIFC on the nearly 800-mile road trip from Brunswick County, N.C., to Biloxi once again for the 2014 SKA Nationals.
When the two-man, father-son fishing team made the return trip from Biloxi this year, they were ecstatic, as the hard work had paid off in the most incredible way.
The duo won the Small Boat Class of the event with a pair of king mackerel weighing 44.82 and 42.14 pounds for a winning aggregate of 86.96 pounds.
“We got it done - we got it built - and darned if we didn’t go down there and win it,” said Brian Aycock. “It was kind of a fairy tale ending to a really rough year.”
Brian Aycock was beaming with pride of the accomplishment achieved by his son, a sophomore at West Brunswick High School who works as a mate at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., and is an avid fisherman and hunter.
“He works hard at it,” said Brian Aycock. “He’s grown up all his life watching the guys he looks up to, fishermen, like Brant and Rube (McMullan, owners of Ocean Isle Fishing Center). In our sport to be a national champion is the ultimate, and he made it.
“I’m proud of winning, but the hard work he put in all year to get ready was something else. For him to accomplish this goal is really something to me as a father, especially for him to do it at 15.”
The Aycocks won in unusual fashion, with only a two-man crew fishing in the waters off Biloxi, where prolific bites from huge king mackerel can be expected.
“Going into it I felt a little apprehensive that with just the two of us if we got on a big bite of fish we couldn’t cull through a big bite,” said Brian Aycock. “We managed just fine. Austin is a heckuva fisherman.”
When the fishing for Nov. 7 was blown out by a small craft advisory, each boat was allowed to weigh in two fish on Nov. 8.
On the lone fishing day, the Aycocks made the nearly 70-mile jaunt to fish the Exxon rig, but soon after they arrived, the bite slowed down.
As the other boats fishing the vicinity left, the Aycocks were boating their first fish, the 42.14-pounder. Fishing with no other boats around, the duo boated their third and final fish of the day, the 44.82-pounder, at about 12:30 p.m., and decided to head to the scales with plenty of time to spare.
After waiting out numerous boats weighing in their fish, the Aycocks were declared the winners of the division with their 86.96-pound-aggregate and $65,000 in cash and prizes.
Other notes from the tournament:
• The Aycocks winning margin was more than 10 pounds, as the second-place finisher in the Small Boat Class, Speedgoat had a 76.62-pound aggregate, which included a 60.6-pounder but a 16.02-pounder for their second fish.
• Part Time of Pawleys Island, a 31-foot Contender with Bruce Gallup, Clay Gallup and Mark Gallup aboard, claimed a top 10 finish in the open division. The crew scaled kings weighing 41.32 and 43.16 pounds for an 84.48-pound aggregate to finish in seventh place.
• In the Open Division, Vengeance, out of Jacksonville, Fla., came away the winner with a 95.02-pound aggregate, just nipping Mas Pescado of Mount Pleasant with a 94.22-pound aggregate.
For full results of both divisions visit www.fishska.com/nat14/NationalChampionship.