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Family is the focus of Jolly Mon King Classic

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By Michael Paul, Sports Editor

Prize money will attract many competitors to the Yellowfin/OIFC.com Jolly Mon King Classic tournament, but organizer Brant McMullan hopes the fishing tournament attracts competitors for another reason: its reputation as an event for families.

The annual tournament, based out of the Ocean Isle Fishing Center, takes places Saturday and Sunday. In the captain’s choice format, competitors fish either Saturday or Sunday. Competitors declare their intended fish day on the registration form or they have until 7 a.m. Saturday to call (910) 253-3474 and declare their fish day. If a fish day is not declared, Saturday will automatically be counted as the fish day. The entry fee is $250. Registration takes place from noon to 9 p.m. Friday.

Prize money will be awarded for the 31 heaviest king mackerel, with first place worth at least $25,000. Prize money will also be paid for the following: top-20 junior anglers, top- 10 lady anglers and top-three senior anglers, in memory of Capt. Scott Hewett.

Hewett died of a heart attack after his boat capsized in the tournament in “that absolutely freak, horrendous thunderstorm,” McMullan said. “He worked for me. He was a very, very close friend and we remember him for being a good person and a good person in the community.”

Jolly jugs are worth $100, and prize money will be awarded for the top-three catches by competitors in boats no longer than 23 feet.

For youngsters, the registration for the Junior Jolly Mon is 5-7 p.m. Thursday. Weigh-ins will be during 2-4 p.m. Friday. The awards ceremony is 7 p.m. Friday. The pogie-bobbing contest is at 7:30 p.m.

For the Jolly Mon King Classic, the captains’ meeting is at 7:15 p.m. Friday. Weigh-ins will start at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A complimentary dinner is at 7 p.m. and the awards ceremony is at 8 p.m. Sunday.

The tournament last year attracted 295 boats. Pre-registration has been strong for the 2009 tournament, but the weather will determine how many competitors make the trip.

“We have at least average (pre-registration), if not better than average, from years’ past,” McMullan said.

The tournament attracts two kinds of competitors, according to a survey McMullan has done. Of 189 respondents, 119 said they intend to fish with a family member. That is good news for McMullan, who promotes the tournament as an event for families. McMullan intentionally excludes cigarette and alcohol sponsorships.

“Family involvement is extremely important to the tournament,” McMullan said. “It is really the foundation of the tournament.”

That is why he awards prize money to the top 20 junior anglers (16 or younger) and the top 10 lady anglers.

“The real reason for all of those family prizes is to (encourage) families to fish together,” he said.

On McMullan’s fishing team is his 4-year-old daughter, wife, brother and dad.

“We’re a three-generation team,” he said, “and there are many families that fish like that.”

To promote that aspect of fishing, McMullan is offering a new prize.

“Any boat that has a junior on board, a lady on board and a senior on board that weighs a king mackerel, no matter whether it is the minimum size or the winner of the tournament, will receive a $100 gift certificate at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center,” McMullan said.

The other competitors are those who regularly fish tournaments. Of 192 respondents, 88 said they will fish in six or more tournaments this year. The Jolly Mon King Classic is a sanctioned event of the Southern Kingfish Association.

“There are guys, including myself, who are fishing the event to qualify for the national championship,” McMullan said.

The tournament also is the second of three in the new Masters series. (The first was the Far Out Shoot Out May 8-16, the third is the Fall Brawl King Classic Oct. 23-25.) Those who fish in all three and average the best finish win the series, a blue jacket emblematic of the champion, a $1,000 Ocean Isle Fishing Center gift card and other prizes.

More information about the Jolly Mon King Classic and the Masters series is at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center Web site www.oifc.com.