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Scott Smith and crew of the Instigator fought through 40 miles of rough seas so they could fish a spot they hoped would be holding a big king mackerel. They battled not only Mother Nature but also other hungry predators, as the kings they hooked were continuously bitten by barracuda and shark.
Finally, a screaming reel alerted the crew to a good bite, but the race was on to secure the fish. Crew member Keith Logan reported seeing the big king mackerel pass in front of the boat inside of a large wave, and he knew this fish could be the winner. A few minutes later, Smith angled the fish to within the gaff range of Logan and the tournament was in the bag.
The crew of the Team Instigator showed up to the weigh-in dock at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center and weighed their 35.50-pound king, good enough to take the lead and eventually the win in the 2011 Fall Brawl King Classic.
A total of 192 boats from across the Southeast participated in this year’s Fall Brawl King Classic. The captains’ meeting and dinner was hosted from the Ocean Isle Fishing Center on Friday evening, where crews get to mingle and socialize together before competing against each other.
After the business of covering sponsors and rules, the entertainment began in the form of the spot races. Every year dozens of kids participate in this drag-race style format to see whose fish is the fastest.
This year, it was 10-year-old Whitney Crisp, who had the hot hand and fastest fish. She was followed closely by Camdyn Beck, Logan Staley and Maddie Stevens. Congratulations to all race participants, who ranged in age from 2 to 11; all were awarded a medallion for their efforts.
The weather for the Fall Brawl was fair but not great. Midweek before the event, the forecast was flat, calm seas. As the week progressed and right into fishing time, the forecast continued to change until it settled at 10-15 knot northeast winds, seas 2-4 feet. Nearshore, the land provided protection for small boaters, like the sixth-place team of Brent Gainey, who landed a 28-pound King aboard its 21-foot bay boat while fishing Lighthouse Rocks.
The weather Sunday was worse, as the winds were now 15-20 knots and seas offshore 3-5 feet. However, all three of the top kings were caught on Sunday. Second and third both were caught at a spot called Myrtle Beach Rocks, just a couple miles offshore of the old Pavilion in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The majority of the rest of the leaderboard was caught on Saturday by boats that chose to fish offshore in 100 feet of water.
Thanks to all participants for their commitment to the Fall Brawl. The next stop for many tournament fishermen will be the Southern Kingfish Association nationals Nov. 7-9 in Biloxi, Miss.
Brant McMullan is a charter captain and fishing columnist for the Beacon. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.