Sometimes, even when things go wrong they still go right.
Such was the case for Mark Coley and his Brunswick County crew aboard Hot Hook last Saturday in Capt. Brant’s Fall Brawl King Classic out of Ocean Isle Fishing Center (OIFC).
Coley wasn’t happy with the menhaden the crew had caught a day earlier and was headed toward the Cape Fear River Channel to net some fresh pogeys.
Coley, fishing with his son Cayson and fishing buddies Brian Walker and Matt Walker, and crew were approaching the river channel when they spun a prop hub on the 31-foot Contender with twin Yamahas.
“We were just approaching the river channel, within a half mile, when we lost the engine,” said Coley. “That’s where I was planning to fish anyway. Right where we were sitting I saw one king jump, a decent fish.”
The only thing to do was to drop the lines and that’s what the Hot Hook crew did, even if the pogeys weren’t fresh after a day in the bait pen.
Still, within several minutes, around 8:30 a.m., they got a significant bite on a single pogey in the prop wash.
“It was a fatigued bait, but we still got the bite on it,” said Coley.
Brian Walker was the angler, and he was hooked up with a crazy smoker king.
“He kind of had a mind of his own,” said Coley. “It was a little bit difficult to get him to do like we wanted him to.”
The king immediately went under the bow, and Walker managed to work the line out from under the bow before they turned to chase the fish.
Once closer to the boat, the king ran under the it, with the line in danger of becoming entangled in the outboards. Walker managed to get the fish to boat side, where Coley had a quick gaff shot at the king.
“I was trying to drive and gaff and keep the fish out of the motors,” said Coley. “I was going to gaff it, and (I saw) it had already lost one hook. I reached as far as I could reach and got him above the tail.”
Coley knew he didn’t have the king gaffed well enough to pull it into the boat.
“I didn’t have (the gaff) in enough meat so I pulled it toward me, and picked him up (by the tail) with the other hand.”
A little unorthodox, but the fish, clearly a 30-plus pounder, was in the boat.
Now their attention returned to the engine trouble.
“We caught the fish and turned around, but we could only make 8-9 mph, so we puttered on back to the hill,” said Coley. “We were 23-24 miles from the (OIFC).”
After arriving at the OIFC four hours later, the crew took over the lead with their 37.80-pound king. They waited the rest of the afternoon Saturday and held the lead after 91 other boats weighed in.
The wait continued on Sunday as 21 other teams in the field of 204 boats decided to fish that day, with four weighing in fish.
Hot Hook was declared the winner, barely topping the 37.65-pound king caught Sunday near Carolina Beach Inlet and weighed in by the father-son duo of Tony Alexander and Ron Alexander aboard Hoo Dat.
“This team was destined to win,” Capt. Brant McMullan of the OIFC said of Coley and crew.
Clear Cut ventured to the North Inlet Reef off Georgetown to catch the third-place king, a 36.75-pounder.
Whipping Post caught the fourth-place king, a 35.40-pounder, from north of the Apache Pier in 36-feet of water.
Beeracuda finished fifth with a 35.30-pound king caught from the mouth of the Cape Fear River.
A good grade of king mackerel were brought to the scales in the tournament, with the top 13 fish weighing over 30 pounds and the top 34 over 25 pounds.
After competing in a handful of king tournaments a year from Carolina Beach, N.C., to Little River since 1996, the persistence paid off for Coley and crew.
“It was our first win,” said Coley, who claimed $42,000 in prize money. “We’ve gotten our seconds and thirds and fourths but never won one. It took some time, but we got her done.”
Chasin Limits Bass Tournament
This tournament is for middle and high school anglers and will be held Nov. 9 out of Bucksport Marina.
The event is a fundraiser for the Student Angler League Tournament Trail (SALTT). Visit www.SALTTFishing.com for more information.