Tournament Report – Sneads Ferry Rotary Club KMT
John Lewis, Debbie Pretty, and Jay Russell, of “Second Chanze” with the 43.55 lb. king mackerel that won them the Sneads Ferry Rotary Club KMT.
The Sneads Ferry Rotary Club KMT saw its 27th year in 2018, and it was once again a success despite the threat of a reschedule due to high winds. Tournament Director Renee Rhodes reported a lower turnout than usual (67 boats compared to the usual 100+ average), saying, “It was not a good fishing day.”
John Lewis, of Second Chanze, was certainly happy with that decision. He and his two teammates, Jay Russell and Debbie Pretty, made it out of Beaufort Inlet to find the wind blowing at about 18 mph on Onslow Bay. When they made their way to the east side of the shoals, the wind slowed down a little but they were dealing with 3-5’ swells. Still, they made it to their destination at Flat Belly Reef and started getting gear ready.
“There were big schools of bluefish on top of the water,” Lewis recounts, “and so we put a bluefish out on the long, but nothing happened.” They tried a shad next, and within ten minutes got a strike, but not a fish. Quickly putting another shad out, Second Chanze made a few more laps and then got the hookup they had been looking for and a battle they weren’t expecting.
“We fought him about 4-5 minutes before we realized the line was frayed in the water,” Lewis said. “Jay was on the rod, and we kept working easy with it. We worked together, got the fray back in the spool, and then the fish took off.” That would happen three more times; as each time the fray came back into the spool, the fish would get a new burst of energy and make a run. It wasn’t until another five minutes had passed that the fray got to a place where the team felt comfortable.
Lewis added, “We knew he was big. Jay got him to the boat and we gaffed him, and as soon as he hit the deck, I knew he was over 40 lbs.”
They bagged the king and decided to head back, knowing from radio chatter that they had not just one of the biggest fish so far, but perhaps the only fish.
Jumping the shoals put them back into 20 mph winds and 5’ waves, and the normal 30 minute trip back to the inlet took them over an hour.
In the end, their 43.55 lb. king mackerel would win them $14,159.
A total of $36,738 was given out during the tournament, and Rhodes said that the proceeds the Rotary Club makes go back into the local community. This includes taking families Christmas shopping, taking food to the elderly at Thanksgiving, and giving scholarships to high school students.