My good friend and owner of Bluewater Candy Lures here in Hampstead is beaming from ear to ear today. He and his team members Rick Croson and Russell Weaver, won first place in the SKA National Championship for their division (class of 23’). Quiet a feat considering the level of competition at this event.
The SKA National Championship tournament uses a two fish aggregate and is fished over a two day period. The BWC weighed in a 46.75 pound fish and a 44.54 pounder! The team took second place in 2007 but did not make the leader board last year, so that made this victory even sweeter.
NC and Hamstead was well represented in the nationals this year as they are in most years. Another team from Hampstead, Randell Eden’s team (East Coast Sports) took 3rd place in that division. They took first place last year. Both the Bluewater Candy team and Randall’s team fish out of Onslow Bay 23T boats which are made right here in Hampstead, NC by Brad Knight. Way to go guys!
The BIG news of the tournament was Brant McMullen’s team from the Ocean Isle Fishing Center (Ocean Isle, NC) catching a 74.10 pound king. You read that right, a 75 pounder! That set a new record for an SKA sanctioned tournament and also set a new Mississippi state record. That propelled them into first place and they secured the general division championship with a second fish weighing 44.03 pounds. That also gave them the SKA record for a two fish aggregate. Congratulations to Brandt and his team.
A lot of other NC teams finished on the leader board as well. Way to go guys!
Yesterday I had the privilege of participating as a volunteer in the Wound Warrior fishing event at Seaview Pier at North Topsail Beach. This is the 3rd annual pier fishing event put on for these Amercian Heroes from the Wounded Warrior barracks at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. Each one of these young men were wounded proudly serving our country in Iraq or Afganistan. This event is one of the ways we as a community are using to try to show these guys how much we appreciate them and that they are not forgotten.
This was my second year serving as a volunteer. We had twenty-four marines and three wives. We cut bait, take fish off hooks, show these guys how to use the gear, get their water, whatever they need. They seem somewhat overwhelmed at times by our anxiousness to help them enjoy a day of fishing. Many of them had never been fishing in saltwater and all seemed to have a blast taking a day away from the rigors of the routines of treatments, therapy, medical tests, etc.
But the best part is getting to know these guys. Listening to their stories. Hearing about their love for their country and their dedication to serve it proudly. To a man they all want to go back to the fight once they are recovered. Some will not be able to go because of their injuries but they still want to go. Some will talk more than others about their experiences overseas but from each you can sense their pride, not in themselves but in their country and the Marine Corps role in protecting our country.
They caught a lot of fish yesterday, blues, mullet and a few Spanish. They made a lot of new friends. They warmed the heart of a few old codgers like me. True Heroes are these men, Heroes indeed!
The Surf City Ocean Pier held the 4th annual Mike Martin Memorial Fishing Tournament this past week-end. By any measure it was a huge success. The turnout was the largest yet, the weather was perfect and the fish even showed up! Fish were caught in 8 of the 9 categories with only King Mackerel being shut-out. There were a lot of door prizes this year and lots of smiles!
Of course the big news is that a speckled trout was caught ending the drought from the last tournament. The winner received this year’s grand prize of $500 plus the $500 prize carried over from last year when no specks were caught in the tournament. In fact the first speck of this tournament was caught less than 30 minutes from the beginning on Saturday. However that fish was eclipsed by a larger fish on Sunday morning. Following are the complete results:
1st Tim Jenkins 6.39 lb Puppy Drum
2nd Gavin Jones 1.57 lb Spade
3rd Garrett Burgess 1.54 lb Spanish
$1000 Speckled trout Tony Lane (pictured above)
$100 Gene Rivenbark 2.65 lb
$50 Brian Glasnapp 2.59 lb
$100 Virginia Speaks .40 lbs
$50 Shelly Phillips .36 lbs
$100 Augie Hernandez 2.24 lbs
$50 Russ Becker 1.63 lbs
$100 J.M. Dupree .51 lb (released to grow up)
$100 Doug Keicher 1.55 lb
$50 James Tyndall .80 lbs
$100 Todd Andrews 1.23 lbs
$50 Michael Bryant 1.18 lbs
$100 Alex Beasley 1.40 lbs
$50 Virginia Speaks 1.35 lbs
The largest fish caught on a Gotcha Plug was a flounder that weighed 2.26 lbs caught by Tanner Jones. He won a rod and reel combo (valued at $240) donated by Sea Striker
The largest fish caught on a Clark Caster was also a flounder this one weighed .98 lbs caught by Candice Burke. She won a Gift bag full of Clark Casters, spoons and shinners a value of $100 donated by James E. Clark, LLC a division of Sea Striker.
I had the pleasure of fishing in the first “Bucket Brigade Open” which was held at Surf City Pier this past Saturday. There were about 30 of us fishing in the BBO as we like to call some from as far away as Charlotte.
The BBO started out as a group of anglers from an online web site, NCangler.com, wanting to get together and fish. One thing led to another and soon the BBO was born. It is intended to be an on going event. The idea centered around pier fishing and most of us are actively involved in supporting preserving public access to our public waters. As a result we decided to accept a donation for entry into our BBO bucket decoration contest and donate that money to the NC Public Access Foundation (NCPAF).
NCPAF is a non-profit organization that was formed to help acquire lands to secure public access to our beaches, streams, lakes and other public waters. Rapidly increasing development around waterfronts has resulted in public access to these resources disappearing. They are dedicated to raising money, awareness and public support for preserving access for all! Check out their website at: www.ncpafonline.com
By the way, the name Bucker Brigade was chosen because so many of us that fish carry 5 gallon buckets with us. We had very imaginative entries into our bucket contest but Forrest Loy of Atlantic, NC took the top prize with his “fish surrender” bucket. A standard bucket but adorned with hundreds of hand tied flies and lures. The idea being when a fish sees that bucket, he just surrenders on the spot. Well, it looked great anyway!
The Spanish mackerel and blue fish bite remains extremely strong. Both boaters and pier based anglers have seen times when a “limit” was reached very quickly. Some are saying this is the best year for Spanish they have seen in a decade or more. Early morning and late in the day are the best times.
Inshore fishing is producing catches of flounder, black drum, croaker, red drum, speckled trout and pompano. A good number of kings and some nice cobia are also being caugh. Offshore the dolphin are moving in closer as the water warms. I have seen some excellent catches of grouper and sliver snapper too.
Tight lines to all!
Wow! That one small word only begins to describe the feelings many of us felt today. One of the members from NC Angler.com, Speckhunter80 organized the second annual Wounded Warriors Pier fishing event. The wounded warriors are from Camp LeJeune and are there recovering from wounds they received in Iraq or Afghanistan. This special day was organized as a way for the angler community to show our appreciation for their sacrificial service to our county.
We had 9 Marines from the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp LeJeune. Nine heroes, real American heroes! Not politicians, movie stars, or sport stars that we sometimes mistakenly treat as heroes. Most American will never know their names. Will never see their faces. Will never know first hand the sacrifices these guys made for us, for ME and for YOU. They don’t even know us, but they were willing to put it all on the line for us. True heroes, not that they consider themselves to be heroes, they say “We were just doing our job”. What a privilege it was to spend the day with these guys.
I’ll let some others tell the tales about the fish caught, the fish that caught a Marine…LOL. We all have some stories about the Marines we met today. That’s what I want to tell you about.
A few of their stories. One Marine was on his second tour in Iraq - and was wounded three times - not all at the same time but all on the same day. His platoon was ambushed and he took a round through his helmet and across the top of his head. Unfazed by the blood and missing section of his helmet, he saw a marine down in front of him and nobody had been able to get to him yet so with his machine gun blazing he went out into the field. That is when he took a round from a sniper in his arm. It was an Armour piercing round and shattered his right fore arm. He has had many surgeries to repair that arm, he still lacks full feeling in his hand as the nerves were severely damaged. Then later in the day he took a piece of shrapnel to the gut. This final blow destined him to a helicopter ride back to the base and then back home. He is re-enlisting in a few months when his current enlistment is up, he wants to go back on the battle field for a third time, this time to Afghanistan.
Another fellow I spoke with had his legs and knees severely damaged in Iraq during a fire fight with Syrian & Jordanian terrorist. He told me he has been in 5 years and served in Iraq & Afghanistan three times. He wants to make a career of the marines but they are saying he won’t be allowed to go overseas because of the damage to his legs. He says he doesn’t want a desk job, he wants to do his job (Infantry) and go back overseas.
These are just two of the heroes we took fishing today. Each of them have a part in keeping us free. Heroes INDEED!
Below is a group picture of the heroes and some of the volunteers: