Sometimes persistence pays off.
Dieter Cardwell missed the inaugural U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament out of Southport, N.C. in 1979, but he hasn’t missed one since.
Last Saturday, Cardwell, 70, made history in the 40th edition of the tournament, becoming the first competitor to win the prestigious event twice and the first to earn over $100,000.
Cardwell and his crew aboard Tide Line weighed in a 37.20-pound king mackerel to claim first place last Saturday, a little over three weeks after Hurricane Florence lashed the Brunswick County coast.
Cardwell, who is from Winston-Salem, N.C., and his fishing partners, Mike Lundy of Statesville and Oak Island, N.C., and Kevin Alley of Greensboro, N.C., took home an astounding $108,216 for the win.
“It’s still kind of sinking in,” said Cardwell, who registered his first win in the tournament in 2000. “That’s been our goal, to be the first team to win it twice, but we never thought we’d do it. When you get to the Captains Meeting and see all those other teams, you wonder, ‘How can you win it?’ “
The trio won over a field of 432 boats, as the tournament paid out over $273,000 in cash prizes.
Timothy Gray and crew from Wilmington, N.C., aboard Beeracuda finished second with a 36.05-pound king and won $38,055. Patrick Overstreet and crew of Tarboro, N.C., aboard Service Call finished third with a 35.45-pound king and won $46,115.
During the tournament, the Cape Fear River was still spewing dirty floodwater thanks to Florence’s torrential, and devastating rain. Therefore fishing the river channel, usually a favorite spot during the event, wasn’t an option.
With word of a strong bite of large kings and cleaner water along the beach south of the state line off Horry County, Cardwell and his partners headed south in the 35-foot Wellcraft powered by triple 300-horsepower Yamahas for the two days of fishing (Oct. 5-6).
On the first day, they checked out the action near the Apache Pier, where numerous large kings had been caught since the storm.
With a gaggle of boats working that area, they headed farther south and caught two kings near the Springmaid Pier.
On the second day of fishing, they headed even farther south, to fish the vicinity of The Pier at Garden City.
“There were a lot of bait pods down there, a lot of pods running down the beach,” said Cardwell. “We threw (the cast net) one time and got 50 (menhaden), and dropped the baits into the pods.”
At 8:15 a.m., they caught a 15-pounder and at 10 a.m. boated a 23-pounder. When they 11 a.m. hour rolled around, they got the bite they were looking for - a king hit a line just behind the prop wash while they were slow-trolling 400-500 yards off the beach.
“The fish came back through and picked up the prop wash bait, too,” said Cardwell. “The two lines were wrapped and we had to get that unwrapped. Once we got that done we were able to turn the boat and chase the fish down.”
With Lundy serving as the angler, Alley gaffed the fish after a 10-minute fight.
They knew they had a fish that would threaten the leaderboard, but Cardwell wasn’t sure they had a winner.
“We stayed and fished another two hours because we didn’t think it was big enough to win,” said Cardwell.
After a 1 1/2-hour run back to Southport, the trio was thrilled to be declared the winners of one of the largest cash prizes in the history of king mackerel fishing in the Southeast.
“We’re excited,” said Cardwell. “It’s going to be a real boon for the (Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce) getting over the $100,000 mark. You put $100,000 up there, people are going to come.”
Fall Pier King Tournament
The Apache Pier has been a real hot spot for king mackerel since Hurricane Florence inundated southeastern North Carolina and caused massive flooding on the Waccamaw River.
That trend continued during the Fall Pier King Mackerel Tournament last weekend, staged by the Grand Strand Fishing Rodeo.
Three king mackerel were caught during the tournament, which was held on the Apache Pier, Cherry Grove Pier and Myrtle Beach State Park Pier, and all three kings were caught from the Apache Pier.
Josh Kendall won the event with a 33.3-pounder, Austin Conner was second with a 30.15-pounder and John White was third with a 22.7-pounder.
A drawing was held for the fourth and fifth place prizes, which were won by Mike Jocoy and Cam Steel.
*Rumble in the Jungle: The tournament will be held out of Captain Archie’s in North Myrtle Beach Oct. 19-21.
For more information, call 843-781-4089 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fall Brawl King Classic out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., was scheduled for this weekend but has been postponed.
The event will now be held Oct. 26-28. For more information, call 910-575-3474 or e-mail email@example.com.
After a hurricane delay, the Student Angler League Tournament Trail gets underway on Oct. 20 with the first tournament of the 2018-19 school year.
All SALTT tournaments are held out of the Carroll Campbell Marine Complex on the Sampit River in Georgetown.
SALTT features divisions for red drum and largemouth bass, with middle and high school anglers competing against each other.
For more information visit www.SALTTFishing.com or call 843-902-4274.
Let ‘Em Go, Win The Dough
The Let ‘Em Go, Win The Dough Flounder Tournament will be held Oct. 20 out of Crazy Sister Marina in Murrells Inlet. The Captains Meeting will be held Oct. 19, 6 p.m. at the Marina.