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It is Jolly Mon tournament time.
This weekend the Ocean Isle Fishing Center will host the annual Yellowfin/Yamaha Jolly Mon King Classic fishing tournament. The Jolly Mon tournament has become one of the Southeast’s largest King Mackerel tournaments, last year registering 360 boats from all over the Southeast to compete for the first-place prize of more than $25,000. Of course, there are more places than first: the tournament actually pays for the largest 31 kings caught.
The tournament, however, hangs it hat on family participation and offers lots of prizes for junior, lady and senior anglers who participate. One of the big draws to the event is the annual pogie-bobbing contest, which takes place Friday, immediately following the captains’ meeting. You know bobbing, and you know pogies, now picture combining the two. The pogie bobbing is mostly for all the junior anglers and their parents, but over the years quite a few adults have taken part. If you haven’t seen it, you are missing out. The tournament schedule is as follows:
Thursday, 5-7 p.m.: Registration for the Jr. Jolly Mon. All entries must be in by 7 p.m. to compete. The Jr. Jolly Mon is designed to offer the junior anglers a tournament of their very own, where they can fish with dad, mom, uncle and neighbor — and win prizes for catching king mackerel, dolphin, sea bass and cobia. All registrants must be 16 or younger, and the entry is $10 per junior angler. The hope is for the junior angler to earn entry money through some form of work and pay their way to compete. There are lots of Jolly Mon teams that fish the day prior to the big tournament, so why not take junior angler or two and fish the Jr. Jolly Mon. Some use the Jr. Jolly Mon as a warmup for their junior anglers and some use it as means to take their junior angler fishing in “their very own tournament” so they won’t feel left out if they are not invited to fish for the big money in the Jolly Mon. Keep it in mind, it can be lots of fun and a great experience for young fishermen.
Friday, noon-9 p.m.: Final registration for the Yellowfin/Yamaha Jolly Mon King Classic. Entry forms are in the tournament program, on the Web site and the tournament site. You can enter on-line.
2-4 p.m.: Weigh-in for the Jr. Jolly Mon. 6 p.m.: Guy C. Lee of Shallotte sponsors and cooks a free dinner. This year’s menu features grilled chicken, sausages, rice and all the trimmings. 7 p.m.: Jr. Jolly Mon awards ceremony. 7:15 p.m.: Captains’ meeting. 7:30 p.m: Pogie-bobbing contest. 9 p.m.: Registration for the Jolly Mon closes and the field is set.
Saturday, 7 a.m. (optional fishing day): Tournament fishing begins. 2. p.m.: Weigh-in opens. 5 p.m.: The weigh-in line will close.
Sunday 7 a.m.: (optional fishing day) Tournament fishing begins. 2 p.m.: Weigh-in opens. 5 p.m.: The weigh-in line will close. 7 p.m.: Free dinner, compliments of the OIFC staff. 8 p.m.: Awards ceremony.
Whether you plan to fish the event or simply watch the show, I invite you to the Ocean Isle Fishing Center to 2008 Jolly Mon King Classic. For complete details on the tournament, you can visit www.OIFC.com or call (910) 575-3474.
So, where are the winning fish going to come from? Until this week, the king bite has been hot one day and cold the next. The 390/390 has been producing most consistent, but mostly with 10- to 15-pound fish. This past week a bite around Yaupon and the Cape Fear River Channel has developed with most fish in the 10- to 15-pound range, but I have heard of a couple in the mid-20s. I have not heard anything from past Jolly Mon hot spots at Carolina Beach inlet area or Georgetown.
Saturday I saw the best sign so far this season as I was running offshore. Just offshore of the 70-foot hole I ran into acres of cigar minnows. I stopped to fish and fell into a hot bite of kings and dolphin. The kings were from 12 to 18 pounds, and we finished up with a 24.65-pounder. The bait was steady, moving inshore, and this is the key ingredient that will bring the kings hot and heavy into their normal 55- to 65-foot depth areas.
Also on the bait, last week the pogies suddenly showed up and have been holding consistent all week along the Ocean Isle, Holden and Long beaches. The Spanish are thick as flies on the beach, too.
So what does this mean?
I think the big fish will come right on the beach around the Spanish and the pogies. It’s a bit of a gamble, but all the ingredients are in place. Also, I think the fish will show strong at the Jungle by the tournament and probably also the 65-foot hole and Shark Hole. The fish are on the move, and things are changing for the better every day. As for weather, right now, it looks as if a front will move through on Wednesday, and Friday’s forecast is for light southerly winds. Hopefully, that will hold and continue into the weekend.
In other fishing, the Gulf Stream has continued good for Mahi-mahi and blue marlin. Saturday, Kendal Suh, Yorke Pharr and Rube McMullan fished aboard Suh’s Fishin’ Physician and landed a dozen mahi in the 15- to 30-pound range and released and estimated 150-pound blue marlin. The trio were fishing offshore of the Winyah Scarp and noted that the deeper offshore they fished, the bigger the mahi got, as well as finding the marlin. This year has certainly been an exceptional year for marlin, as I cannot remember so many blue marlin being released from our area. Hopefully, this is a sign of the health of the stock and of an improving fishery.
That’s all for this week. Let’s cross our fingers for good weather this weekend. See you at the Jolly Mon.
BRANT McMULLAN is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at email@example.com