“Boyce Broadwell was as fine a man as I have ever met in my all my life.” Kingfish Cup Captain and current points leader Jeff Crouch, Team Strictly Business.
The kingfishing world suffered a terrible loss on July 27, when Boyce Broadwell tragically passed away. Boyce was not merely a fishermen, he was a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a loved member of the Oak Island community. There are many people who will feel the sting of his loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with them all at this time. As previously stated, Boyce was not merely a fisherman. He was an excellent fisherman, and the stories of his days on the water will last for a very, very long time.
In 2004, an extra-active season of tropical storms and hurricanes forced the Wrightsville Beach King Mackerel Tournament (at the time, a late summer fixture in Wilmington) to be postponed until late October. With the change of dates, Jeff Crouch and Boyce Broadwell decided to fish the tournament together on Jeff’s boat. Boyce brought his brother-in-law, Bill Pate to complete the team for the day. After trading information, they decided that heading to the east of the Cape Lookout Shoals would put them at ground zero for an all-out fall kingfish bite. They made the right call.
The team trailered up to North Topsail, then checked out for the tournament at Snead’s Ferry. Big fall bait was easy to come by, and they picked their way through the shoals and to the Atlas Tanker. Fifteen minutes into their fishing day, something incredible happened. A big, stubborn fall king struck and the fight was on. The big sow refused to come out from under the boat. Perhaps this fish had been hooked before, or it just knew what it was doing. It took a while before Boyce even had an opportunity to try to gaff the fish, but when he finally got it, he made it pay. His money shot with the gaff put this team in an elite category. They became, at that moment, members of a select fraternity, those that have caught a 60 pounder in an actual tournament.
That fish, on that day, weighted 60 pounds on the nose. Not only did they catch a fish that most will only ever dream about, but they broke an 18 year old record for the Wrightsville Beach tournament. It certainly wasn’t the only big fish caught in the fishing career of Boyce Broadwell, but it may have been one of the most special.
“He was a great friend who helped me to become a better person, a better husband, and a better father. His name is Boyce Broadwell and like so many others, I’m honored to say he has been a part of my families’ life.” Close friend and fishing companion, David Purser.
New to the tournament fishing scene at the time, David Purser first met Boyce Broadwell right at the conclusion of the U.S. Open in 2013. Boyce had just captained the Nauti Lady to a second place overall finish with a 45.90. David asked him where Boyce had caught his smoker, and to this day believes that Boyce told him the exact spot where the fish bit. From this first interaction, a great friendship grew.
David explained how Boyce changed the way that he looked at fishing when they began fishing tournaments together. As fishing goes, it’s easy to be positive when the bite is red hot and kings are practically jumping in the boat. It was the slower times, however, that Boyce’s personality and experience really stood out. He had stories from tournaments and fun-fishing trips for years, and he could always put the boat in a better frame of mind. “When a fish that no one believed was big bit, he would always ask ‘Have you ever caught a seventy or eighty pound king?’ Of course I would say ‘No.’ And he would reply ‘Well, I’ve caught kings in the thirties, forties, fifties, and even one sixty pounder, but never a bigger one, and this could be the one.’ On days where we didn’t catch a king at all he’d say ‘They just got lucky to grow a little bigger for the next tournament.’” His positivity made the difference, and it wasn’t just a fish story! Boyce’s attitude cultivated a love for king mackerel fishing with David Purser, and a whole host of other anglers that he fished with.
Mickey Thompson, the owner of Sportsman’s Choice Marine (formerly Marine Service Center of Little River) had rigged the Nauti Lady with engines for years, through different brands, models, and generations of outboard technology. Their relationship was well past that of customer and a business owner. They were good friends. Boats are what introduced them to each other, but through the years, they talked about much more than just boats and fishing when Boyce brought the Fountain down for work. It was a sad day at Sportsman’s Choice when the news of this tragedy broke. No doubt it was a sad day everywhere that Boyce Broadwell was known.
We truly lost one of our own on July 27, 2017. Our sport is a little bit lesser now, because a great fisherman is no longer fishing with us. Surely Boyce Broadwell is in a better place now, and he’s most likely fishing as this is written, waiting on that seventy or eighty pound king to bite. Keep your line tight, Captain, because that monster you’ve been thinking about since you started fishing will be inhaling that double pogie rig very, very soon!
Capt. Chris Burrows
Lucky, Or Just Good?
“We fished the first day out of Little River Inlet. Conditions were rough and the fishing was slow. The only fish we caught was a half inch short. We made an adjustment for day two and fished out of Southport. Changing it up really paid off for us.” Tony Morgan, Captain of Team Salt Therapy.
There’s not a single Kingfish Cup team that found stellar fishing on the first day of the East Coast Got Em On tournament this year. The seas were angry, as the southwest wind gusted up to into the twenty plus knot range all day. A number of teams reported dirty water. Still other teams got through the inlet of their choice, took a look at the seas, and simply turned around. At the end of the day, there were only a handful of fish on the leaderboard. What a difference a day can make. Diminished winds led to better-than-forecasted conditions for Sunday. The chop was gone, and there was just a residual swell for teams to negotiate. With better conditions came better fishing. There was a flurry of activity at the Carolina Beach Municipal Docks that afternoon, and the leaderboard swelled. Good tournament king mackerel fishing had returned to the Cape Fear region.
No team took more advantage of the improving conditions than Salt Therapy. This Oak Island based team, captained by Tony Morgan, fishes a 26 footer, which isn’t one of the biggest boats in the field. No matter, by the end of the tournament they had, quite simply, weighed the biggest king. Their 37.41 pounder won the Got Em On by the thinnest of margins, a mere four hundredths of a pound, but the gap between first and second, ultimately matters very little. The winner was good for a $14,480 main prize pot, additional special weight and category money, and $1,685 in Kingfish Cup prize money. Team Salt Therapy is now qualified for the Kingfish Cup Championship in Ocracoke as well.
When I congratulated Tony on his win, he was modest. Quite simply, he said “We got lucky.” I’ve thought about that comment for a while, and I respectfully disagree. Here’s why.
Team Salt Therapy made an adjustment after what they experienced on Saturday. Now, making a major adjustment isn’t always an easy thing to do, especially when your game plan is based on the research you spent all week doing. Covering a completely different part of the ocean is throwing yourself a curveball. In this case, the adjustment obviously paid off. Maybe Salt Therapy put just as much work into researching Plan B as they did into their first day? That wouldn’t be a characteristic of a team who just “got lucky.”
Having the foresight to enter the Kingfish Cup months ago is not a characteristic of teams who just plan on “getting lucky.” If you’re planning your season that far in advance, with the goal of extending it well into the fall, then you’re more than likely the type of captain or team who tends to make their own luck. No one enters a tournament series without the goal of going all the way, or why would you commit the time and funds to it? Have you ever heard a serious tournament angler say that they were hoping for a “second place fish” or a fish big enough to “just get them on the leaderboard?” Neither has this writer.
In 2001, a lightly regarded heavyweight named Hasim Rahman knocked out Lennox Lewis to take the heavyweight championship of the world. Stunned by the defeat, Lewis and his camp attributed the knockout to a “lucky punch.” Rahman’s response was simple. He was quoted as saying “When you’re aiming for the other guy’s chin and you hit it, it ain’t luck.”
Congratulations, Capt. Tony and Team Salt Therapy. You just landed your best punch on the chin of the field at the East Coast Got Em On King Mackerel Tournament. You’re going to Ocracoke in November. Still think you’re “just lucky?” The standings say you’re pretty good.
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
The One That Didn’t Get Away (Twice)
“What you saw at the dock was crazy, but that wasn’t the first crazy thing that happened with that fish.” John Sims, Captain of Team Kryptek.
Every fishermen on the planet has a story of the one that got away. Some fish seem like they’re just not meant to die at the hands of a fishermen, and certainly not in one of the most fabled tournaments in king mackerel fishing history. There are some other fish, however, that prove that the fishermen who catch them must be living right. Kryptek Fishing Team’s 34.86 pounder in the East Coast Got Em On is one of the latter.
Captain John Sims, Co-Captain Berry Bierstedt, Jason McAlister, and Mike Dunning were on the boat for day two of the two day event. Finding nicer than projected weather conditions, the team was at the 23 Mile Rock before they could fish, so they killed time just drifting in the area before putting lines in the water. When tournament time started, they found themselves covered in amberjacks and barracuda. Plenty of action, but definitely not what they were looking for. They decided to make a four mile run to a smaller piece of rock that was more secluded from the field.
When the downrigger bait was struck at their new spot, John said it acted exactly like another amberjack. “The fish bit, ran for just a second, then it ran back to exactly where it had bit.” Sure that this wasn’t what they were looking for, Mike (the least experienced angler on the boat) was given the rod. According to John: “We knew it wasn’t a king, but we told Mike to fight it like it was one. We didn’t let him tighten the drag or get aggressive with it. It was a chance for him to gain some king mackerel tournament experience with our team.” The fish quickly tangled with the downrigger line, and then with two other lines that were still out. Berry and Jason managed to clear the other lines and were actually resetting baits to keep fishing, with Mike fighting the “amberjack” from the bow.
With the angler well forward of the console, Captain John decided to check on his progress. He walked up to the bow, saw a silver flash, and instantly realized that the fish was actually a big king mackerel! “I turned around and just mouthed the words ‘BIG KING’ to the rest of the crew. Then I grabbed a gaff.” A single stroke and the king was in the boat. John said that the long fight, with everyone thinking about resetting a lot more than the hooked amberjack, had worn the king completely out. The fish didn’t even kick its tail when the big hook was sunk in its side.
Listening to the radio, Kryptek knew that they had one of the larger fish in the field. They also knew how sparse the leaderboard was from Day 1, so they didn’t take many chances by staying too late to fish. Easing into the Carolina Beach docks around 3:30, they found themselves dealing with a low tide situation at the weigh in. Jason got the nod to take the fish to the dock, up the ladder, and to the scales. Then things got really interesting.
Jason set the fish on one of the finger piers to scale the ladder, just as just about every other team had done at the weigh in. As narrow as the pier was, he pushed it just a hair to make sure it was stable. If it was prior to the push, it wasn’t after. The bulk of the fish, combined with a wet surface and a considerable amount of king mackerel slime made the fish accelerate. It slid off of the finger pier, fell, bounced off of a tied-up charter boat, and landed back in the dark waters of the Carolina Beach Municipal Docks. The poor volunteer for the tournament could only watch as this happened, as the rules of the tournament prevent the volunteers on the docks from ever touching the actual fish.
John can laugh about the incident now, but there were a tense few moments when this happened. “All I could think was that I was going to kill Jason,” he laughed. Then they got to work. Fully aware that the six plus foot alligator that lives in the marina was just on the other side of the charter boat the falling king had hit, they got out the long gaff and started probing. They quickly found their prize, and sunk a second gaff hole in the fish before the gator got an easy and tasty lunch. This time, the fish was placed on the bulkhead, and not the finger pier, before anyone scaled the ladder.
They say that all is well that ends well. In the case of Kryptek, the fish story had a happy ending. The fish got weighed and no rules were broken in doing so. They ended up sixth overall for the Got Em On, and certainly took a check for the event. Of at least equal importance, their finish and weight, coupled with the 16.95 pounder they weighed at the Jolly Mon, puts them third overall in the Kingfish Cup standings for the year. Their Kingfish Cup winnings of $845 to date certainly help to pay expenses as they continue their quest for the National Championship in Ocracoke. This smoker had two close calls when it came to getting it to the scales, but at the end of the day, the points count. Anyone who thinks tournament kingfishing lacks drama certainly wasn’t a part of the capture of this king!
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
Tough Fishing Right Up Until Halftime
“We know it’s not over yet. Two nice fish change everything, including a chance to compete for the Cup in November.” Scott Smith, Captain of Team Yellowfin Only
Let’s be honest. While we have seen good fish at both the Jolly Mon and the East Coast Got Em On tournaments, the king fishing, overall, has not exactly been red hot for the start of the 2017 Kingfish Cup Series. Weather has certainly been an issue, as conditions for at least three of the four days you could fish overall, have been (at the very least) sporty. The bulk of the fish just didn’t show up in their typical late spring and early summer pattern. Scott Smith has been hard at it and has experienced much better fishing following the Carolina Beach qualifier than before or during, which is certainly atypical of our usual summer fishery. A constant threat in any king mackerel tournament, Team Yellowfin Only has yet to weigh their first king mackerel in the Kingfish Cup. They’re hardly alone in that category.
Team Choice of Two has found themselves in the same situation as Yellowfin Only, but for different reasons. Two events in, they have not weighed a king mackerel, but not because they haven’t caught them. According to team captain Corey Bellamy “We have gotten off to a rough start. We didn’t weigh our eight pounder in the Jolly Mon thinking it was not worth it. We had a 30 plus pounder in the Got Em On and didn’t make the weigh in by a few minutes.” Had the situation been a bit different, and both fish were weighed, Choice of Two would easily be in the top 25 in the standings, somewhere between place 11 and 15. Sometimes the ball bounces your way, and sometimes it does not. Call it a miscalculation, simply bad luck, or whatever you want. The end result is the same.
What all Kingfish Cup anglers must realize is that the current standings are merely the halftime score. Only two teams are guaranteed of a spot in the Championship at this point. Both Do Work and Salt Therapy have already won qualifying events outright, but this doesn’t affect the “body of work” qualification process that will make up the vast majority of the field that gets to fish in November. Surely Jeff Crouch and the rest of the Strictly Business team are in great shape with a 33.94 pound average, but there are really no guarantees. Scott Smith puts it this way “It’s about the top 25 now for Team Yellowfin Only. No matter where you stand on the leaderboard right now, every team has a chance to get into the top 25 and win the Cup!”
There’s no quit in any of the members from these top flight teams, even if the results don’t quite match the efforts. No one is ready to pack it in and start thinking about 2018 yet. Corey summed up how he feels about it with this statement “We aren’t looking so good on paper, but we know how to catch ‘em, so it’s far from over. There are no pansies in the Hall of Fame.” True enough, and we have a whole second half of the season to watch the leaderboard change.
So what does a team do to handle the layoff between the Got Em On and the Fall Brawl? For most, the answer is simply to go fishing. While August and most of September are generally not premier months for king mackerel fishing in the area, there certainly are fish to be caught during this time. With this year being a bit off kilter as far as normal kingfishing goes, these months might be a good opportunity for teams to sharpen up their game a bit (or stay sharp) until the Kingfish Cup kicks back in. There are some local tournaments for teams to compete in as well, and several anglers mentioned that they might fish them to keep their competitive juices going. Eddy Jones might have put it best when he said he was ready to “Keep fishing…And keep pounding.” Fish on, and pound on, sir. We’ll see you at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center on the second weekend of October!
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
Experience Brings Consistency
“I attribute our success to confidence and constantly working baits, even when the bite is slow. You never know what will switch the bite back on.” Hunter Woodell, Captain of Team Contend This.
The exact figures haven’t been fully calculated, but it’s a safe bet to say that Team Contend this probably has the youngest team in the field. The Captain of Contend This, Hunter Woodell is only 27 years old, and neither Jordan David nor Matt Wilson are older than the captain. Team Contend This isn’t letting that hold them back, however, in any sense. While they haven’t yet taken home a check from the Kingfish Cup directly, their 22.75 pounder in the Jolly Mon coupled with a 29.97 in the Got Em On, Hunter and crew have shot up to second place overall in the standings. If the season were to end today, they would be more than assured of a trip to the Kingfish Cup Championship.
Don’t let the age fool you, Hunter has been captaining king mackerel tournament teams since he was 16. Not only that, he spent a summer as a mate at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center to further develop his skills. It was the sum of these experiences that has helped him catch consistent fish in the first two qualifiers of the season. In the summertime, he generally prefers to fish offshore when looking for that big bite. He prefers depths of 85 to 90 feet over livebottom when the water is warm, rather than going for that “hero” bite closer to the beach. Then they go to work, constantly manipulating the spread until they get the right combination. Hunter went on to sum up his thought process about the tournament season.
“Overall, we prefer the fall tournaments, and fall fishing in general for the consistent bite. It’s a lot of fun when the whole fleet is close to each other. You have to be good at fishing during the summer, too, because that’s when half of the tournaments are. There are perks to fishing in the summer as well. Some of the time you are out there all by yourself, because everyone spreads out.”
Going forward, Team Contend this will be concerned about qualification for the Championship and improvement. They are in excellent position as far as their ranking in the Top 25 right now, but they are know that there is a lot of work yet to be done. However, their favorite time of the year to fish is right around the corner! Look for this team to finish the season strong and continue their fishing right through the second weekend in November.
Jeff Crouch, Captain of Team Strictly Business, is in an even more advantageous position that Team Contend This. This team has weighed a king over 30 pounds in each of the first two tournaments, meaning that the gap between first and second in the standings is over 25 pounds! Not only that, but the team has also cashed in on almost $14,000 in Kingfish Cup winnings alone through two events. Talk about a hot start to the season.
When it comes to the king mackerel tournament scene, Jeff has been around the proverbial block. His has seen tournament series come and go, a huge shift in boats and outboard motor technology, and several new crops of anglers and captains rise to prominence. He’s been catching big king mackerel through it all. One of the most special fish he caught is well chronicled in the lead article in this newsletter. There have been other monsters as well through the years.
It’s almost fitting that the two hottest teams at the midway point in the first ever Kingfish Cup are well apart in their years. The savvy veteran versus the young gun? It’s a great story line headed into the third and fourth qualifier. Who knows? This duel might even play itself all the way to the Kingfish Cup Championship in Ocracoke. Whatever you do, keep your eye on both of these teams when the tournament series cranks back up again in October.