Kings of the Tournament

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King Mackerel winning anglers give us the scoop – and It’s all in the Boat!

STORY BY LISA STITES

Fall is fishing season, and October brings the U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament to Southport. Fishermen come from all over for a chance at the big prize. As hundreds of fishermen get their boats ready and settle on a crew, one Supply man is hoping he can hook the biggest fish two years in a row.
Last year, Captain Terry Efird and his single-man crew, Rusty Locklear, won the tournament with a 40.2-pound fish. Originally from Robeson County, Efird said he’s been saltwater fishing for probably 20 years, and had been visiting Brunswick County for a long time before moving here
two years ago. He hopes to have a full crew of 4 this year, but as of early August, he was still working on his roster. His prize fish was on the small side for winning the tournament last year, Efird said. “That Friday there were a lot of storms,” he said. “We only caught two that
“It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. We caught the right fish at the right time.”
Friday. They were keepers but they were small. We kept them for the dinner table pretty much. We caught that fish very early Saturday morning and then we just sort of pointed to Southport and headed that way.” Efird calls himself a “weekend warrior,” fishing mostly on weekends since he works full time. He said he only entered two categories last year, but that was enough. “My fishing is the little guy compared to the big guy, fishing against unlimited fund guys,” he said. “No matter if you’re a big money guy or a small money guy, you don’t have to have the best of everything to catch the biggest fish.” The U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament is a big draw for the area, with many local fishermen entering and locals stopping by to see who is on the leader board. It’s held the first weekend of October (October 5-7 this year) at the Southport Marina. According to Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Karen Sphar, in 2016, 464 boats from nine states participated, and there were 109 different North Carolina cities represented. This is the 38th year for the popular tournament , and the Chamber of Commerce estimates the financial impact
for the area is $2,141,280. Sphar said that more than 100 volunteers help make the tournament happen – registering the participants, checking out boats early in the morning, assisting boats getting in and out of the weigh-in docks and selling t-shirts. The clipboard ladies, as they are fondly called, stay with anglers who have weighed in a fish until the fish clears the eligibility process, escort them over the scales and then to the cutting table where the fish is checked freshness and any objects that affect the weight and eligibility, Sphar explained. Online registration for the tournament ends October 3. Check https://www. usopenkmt.com/ or email Fish@usopenkmt.com for more details. There are all sorts of prizes besides the largest fish of the tournament. There are prizes for specific weights, tournaments within the tournament and many more ways for fishermen to win something. There’s even a prize for the 139th largest fish caught. As for Efird, he said he’ll be ready. He confirmed what most spectators hear about the tournament — it’s really the boat that wins the prize. Efird said at first, when he and Locklear went to weigh-in, it hadn’t really sunk in that they caught the largest fish. Once they realized they won, Efird said it was “overwhelming.” He reinvested his $25,000 win into the boat, fitting it with two new engines. There’s a lot of competition in fishing tournaments, especially the U.S. Open, he said. “It could be anybody’s win.” He said he plans to start with some of the places he fished last year and see how that goes. “It’s all about being in the right place at the right time. We caught the right fish at the right time.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine