Outdoors

‘It was just our day’: Nauti-Edition III crew lands winner at U.S. Open fishing tourney

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With a huge field of boats competing annually, no wonder they call it the U.S. Open.

A whopping 496 boats fished the 41st annual U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament out of Southport, N.C., last weekend, with a mix of pros from several states and local weekend warriors alike converging on Brunswick County to ply the waters around the Carolina state line for a smoker king.

When the dust had cleared, the crew of Nauti-Edition III had struck a blow for the weekend warriors.

Robert Carr of Wilmington, N.C., his son Joshua Carr and fishing buddies Jeffrey Masnick and David Clem weighed in a 36.6-pound king to claim first place in the event, earning $42,723 for the victory.

“We’re a bunch of good old boys, neighbors, and we just jumped in there in the U.S. Open, and said ‘Let’s go try it,’ “ said Robert Carr. “It was just our day. We were very surprised and it was very humbling at the same time. We have the right skill set, we just don’t do it every day.”

Boats were able to fish both days, last Friday and Saturday, with the largest king mackerel winning the tournament.

Daddy Rabbit of Southport claimed second place and $59,628 with a 36.20-pound king followed by Frayed Knot II of Wilmington (34.70 pounds, $12,089), Fun Times of Seagrove, N.C. (34.70 pounds, $2,750) and Fish Whistle of Oak Island, N.C. (34.05 pounds, $72,324) to round out the top five.

On Friday, armed with three live wells full of menhaden (pogeys), Carr and crew started by fishing along the beach between Oak Island and Holden Beach, then ran about 15 miles out to fish the 390-390 ledge.

With nothing but kings in the teens being landed, they headed to an area off the Brunswick County coast well-known for producing quality kings - the Cape Fear River Channel.

“We got to the river channel, sets the lines down, trolled around, lost a fish, lost another fish,” recalled Carr. “At 3 p.m., the port side outrigger went off. It was screaming so hard I thought it was going to spool it.”

Carr grabbed the rod and handed it to Masnick, who served as the angler.

“David grabbed the gaff and Joshua was clearing lines,” said Carr. “It was a steady fight, we got the fish close, but it wanted to go under the boat. One guy said ‘That’s a shark.’ I said that ain’t no shark, that’s a king mackerel.

“We missed it with the gaff, then set the gaff and got it in boat. We were all working as a team. When we got it in the boat, we knew it was over 30 and we were just happy.”

Then came the realization of the weigh-in deadline.

“We had to run,” said Carr. “We had to be in (the weigh-in) line by 4 p.m., and we got the fish in the boat at 3:30 p.m.”

When the weigh-in concluded on the first day, the crew’s 36.6-pounder was atop the leader board.

“When we weighed the fish in, (Joshua) said ‘We’re in first,’ “ recalled Robert Carr. “I said ‘Don’t hold your breath son.’ “

With a cold front bearing down on the Carolinas, the seas blew up on the second day of fishing.

“Saturday was terrible. The wind was blowing 25-30, it was rough, the water was dirty and bait was hard to get,” said Carr.

Alas, when the weigh-in concluded on Saturday, the Nauti-Edition III’s king remained in first place and victory was in hand.

As for the $42,000-plus winnings?

“Not bad for a couple days of going fishing,” said Robert Carr.

Rumble In The Jungle

The Rumble in the Jungle king mackerel tournament is on tap this weekend in the North Myrtle Beach-Little River area, with another big field of boats ready to get after smoker kings.

The event is based out of Captain Archies in North Myrtle Beach, with boats able to fish one of two days, Saturday or Sunday. Scales open at 3 p.m. both days.

Captain Archie’s is located at 2200 Little River Neck Road in North Myrtle Beach.

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