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This weekend the annual Yellowfin/OIFC.com Jolly Mon King Classic fishing tournament will be hosted from the Ocean Isle Fishing Center at Ocean Isle Beach. The Jolly Mon tournament has been in the Ocean Isle area since 1992 and has grown to host more than 300 fishing teams from throughout the Southeast.
The winner last year was Keith Logan of Holden Beach aboard the Logan’s Love. Keith and crew boated a 36-pound king to take home first place and more than $20,000 in prize money.
The Jolly Mon tournament is known for its family fishing format, specifically promoting children and women to go fishing. Special prizes are awarded to the top-10 finishing junior anglers and top-10 finishing lady anglers as well as the top-three finishing senior anglers.
This year the Ocean Isle Fishing Center is sponsoring new prize, the Family Fishing Award. Every team who competes in the Jolly Mon and weighs any size king mackerel and has a lady, junior and senior angler on board will win a $100 gift certificate to the Ocean Isle Fishing Center.
Historically, it takes a king mackerel in the 35- to 40-pound range to win the tournament, and kings in the 18- to 22-pound range typically round out the top-30 places.
The Jolly Mon is fished by boats of all sizes because the winning king mackerel can be caught just about anywhere. From as close as the inlet sea buoy to as far as 30 miles offshore, the largest king is likely to be lurking. The winner last year was caught 5 miles offshore; 2007, 12 miles offshore; 2006, 18 miles offshore; 2005, less than a mile offshore (aboard an 18-foot skiff).
Currently, the king mackerel fishing is good and getting even better. Kings have moved from offshore waters and taken up residence in the 50- to 65-foot-depth range, where they will hold through June and into July.
Popular hot spots that have been producing Kings include the 390/390, Lighthouse Rocks, Christina’s Ledge, Jungle and Shark Hole. The beaches are lined with school after school of pogies, which are the favorite food for king mackerel. You can bet one of the top finishing kings will be caught close to these bait schools.
If you don’t fish offshore or can’t make the event this weekend, you are invited to attend the weigh-in from 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center.
In other fishing news, the grouper fishing has picked up good in the 90- to 110-foot depth range. There have also been quite a few cobia and Mahi-mahi mixed in with the kings in the 50- to 70-foot depth range, as well as the occasional sailfish. The Gulf Stream is still producing large Mahi-mahi, with the occasional wahoo and blue marlin.
June has always been the best all-around month for fishing from our area and it is living up to its reputation.
Good luck to all the Jolly Mon fishermen, and I hope to see you at the event this weekend.
BRANT McMULLAN is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at email@example.com.