Bryan Baxter has been part of the winning team in five different Southern Kingfish Association-sanctioned tournaments over the last 14 years, but the latest win is particularly special.
Baxter and his fishing partners - Matt DeAntonio, Gifford Scott and Leigh Colyer, all of the Charleston area - weighed in a 44.20-pound king to win the James Island Yacht Club King Mackerel Tournament Saturday aboard Baxter’s 27-foot Onslow Bay powered by Suzuki.
After securing the win, Baxter’s thoughts quickly turned to his dad, Bobby Baxter, who passed away in June, 2017.
“That win’s definitely dedicated to him,” said Baxter. “This is the first summer he hasn’t been around. He would have been the first one out there high-fiving me.”
The victory continued a string of success for Baxter’s team, dubbed Onslow Bay/Net Profit, with previous wins in SKA events at Edisto Island, Charleston, Sullivan’s Island and the first coming in the 2005 Frantic Atlantic tournament out of Harbourgate Marina in North Myrtle Beach.
“My Dad raised me on the water, fishing, king fishing,” said Baxter. “I definitely owe it all to him.”
Along with landing the largest king, Baxter’s crew won the Small Boat Class. Less than a pound behind was Billy Freeman’s crew aboard Mas Pescado, which weighed in a 43.75-pound king and won the Open Class.
“We knew the Freeman boys had a 40-pounder, and we barely eked it out at the weigh-in,” said Baxter.
Baxter and crew fished a live-bottom area in 100 feet of water, a spot he typically bottom fishes on.
The winning fish came aboard in textbook fashion.
“The fish ate a live bait (menhaden) and Matt was on the rod,” said Baxter. “Five minutes later, I gaffed it. We knew we had a good fish. I looked at it for 60 seconds and we put it in the Sea Angler Gear fish bag.”
The smoker king was the highlight of a busy day for the crew.
“We probably caught 12 fish but they were all small early and that fish hit late morning,” said Baxter. “We continued to fish until 2:30 p.m. We released another probably upper 30-pound fish at noon, another about 30-pounder at 1 p.m. We had a good, fun day and caught some fish.”
The tournament was the second in SKA’s Division 3 (South Carolina) with two more events in the division to go - the Fishing For Miracles King Mackerel Tournament out of Ripley Light Yacht Club in Charleston on Aug. 17-18 and the Marlin Quay King Mackerel Shootout out of Marlin Quay Marina in Murrells Inlet from Sept. 7-9.
- Wahoo Challenge: The tournament out of Georgetown Landing Marina is underway with fishing concluding Saturday. Scales closed at 7 p.m.
- Spanish Derby: Murrells Inlet’s Spanish Mackerel Derby will be held Aug. 24-25, based out of the Mullet Hut on the Marshwalk. The tournament has deep pockets for the eighth annual edition, including over $20,000 in cash and prizes. For more information, call Robert Thompson at 843-602-0910.
- Red Snapper Season: The much-anticipated red snapper mini-season has arrived, and the weather, for once, looks to be stable.
The season for recreational anglers is open Friday through Sunday (Aug. 10-12) and again next weekend, Aug. 17-19. Red snapper can be harvested in federal waters (beyond three miles offshore) with a daily bag limit of one fish per person per day and no minimum size limit.
Recreational anglers are encouraged to report the details of their red snapper fishing trips via www.MyFishCount.com, which allows anglers to report their catches using photos to document lengths, as well as depths from which fish are caught.
The MyFishCount app is available on smart phones.