Team Do Work is no stranger to tournament success. They are no stranger to kicking off the season right with a great performance in the Jolly Mon, either. This year’s edition of the tournament, though, might be their sweetest win to date.
Clearing Shallotte Inlet, the team of Jeff and Camdyn Beck, Jon Hayes, and Jeremy Phillips turned to the south to look for the pogies that had been holding there all week. Their first throw of the cast net was in a mere five feet of water. They retrieved a net full of tiny menhaden, too small to use, but also had a single ribbonfish, which Captain Jeff Beck described as the “prettiest he had ever seen.” They immediately iced down this prized bait, before returning the rest of the undersized bait to the ocean. Pushing further south, they were able to find bigger bait in deeper water, so they filled the livewell in their freshly repowered (with twin Yamaha 200s) Contender 27 and headed towards the Jungle.
Not confident in the first location they fished at the Jungle, the team moved a hair offshore and fished another string of numbers in the area. Finding a good cloud of mid-water bait, they made the call to put the ribbonfish on the downrigger. It wasn’t long before the deep rod popped, and they had hooked what they thought was a shark. They were even more convinced that the fish on the other end of the line wasn’t a king mackerel when they realized that the downrigger ball had been bitten off as well. Frustrated, but not overreacting, Jon angled the fish, Jeff drove, and Jeremy kept working lines to keep the team in the game. Camdyn took pictures with her phone to stock her Instagram account. Then, the “shark” streaked to the southeast, just as a big king would. Everyone’s ears perked up at the sound of the screaming drag, and the fight was on.
When the fish broke the surface, it was clear that they had hooked a king that would, at the very least, put Do Work on the leaderboard. From a distance, looking through the chop out of the south, Jeff thought that they had a mid-20s mackerel on the line. As Jon continued to angle the fish closer, they realized they had something much bigger. The fight got frantic at boat side. Jon begged for a gaff shot, in terms that can’t exactly be printed, but Jeff was able to sink the big hook in the king, which was still pretty green. The smoker pulled Jeff all the way down the gunwale, but he was able to shorten up his grip and pull it into the boat. The 42.75, eventual tournament winner had managed to get every hook in its mouth, including the single hook from the front of the rig, so the outcome was probably never in doubt. Who could have known that during the fight, though?
After an unrehearsed celebration, which Camdyn documented for social media, Team Do Work realized they had a problem. They had lost power to all of their electronics during the fight. Jeff traced the problem back to a dead house battery. They were still under power, so they made the decision to head for home on the compass, with what they thought was a probable winner in the bag. They ran due north to the vicinity of the Shallotte Inlet sea buoy, where they spent the rest of fishing hours for the tournament. At 1:45, they shot through the inlet and to the scales at the Ocean Isle Fishing Center. The weigh-in just confirmed what they already knew, this fish was big! The team kept their fingers crossed for the remainder of Saturday’s weigh-in and all through the fishing day on Sunday and 42.75 pounds held. At that point, there was nothing left to do but collect checks and smile for the cameras.
When it was all said and done, Team Do Work won First Place for the entire Jolly Mon, First for Junior Angler with Camdyn, and First for The Kingfish Cup portion of the event. In addition to a lucrative Jolly Mon check, the team (which had Leveled Up all the way to Level III) collected a Kingfish Cup payday of $10, 610.00! This writer, for one, is thinking they are glad that they chose to go “All In” with the Levels! Perhaps most importantly, Team Do Work is going to Ocracoke in November as an event winner. They can take the rest of the qualifiers off if they chose to, but knowing them, they’ll be ready to fish at Carolina Beach in July!
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
At least three, 50 pound plus, tournament winning kings have been caught in the Got Em On at the Carolina Beach Sea Buoy. If that doesn’t motivate a team, especially one with a smaller boat, to fish the tournament, then nothing will. Lynn Williamson, Charter Member of the Got Em On Live Bait Club, former director of the tournament, and current Board Member
Two days of fishing and the biggest fish wins. Pretty simple, right? On the surface, yes it is. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll find that there is much, much more to the Got Em On King Mackerel Tournament this July in Carolina Beach.
Donna Gurganus, the tournament director and Got Em On Live Bait Club member, explains that there are other ways to pad your pockets in this famed event. Anglers can bring three king mackerel and one dolphin to the scales each day. In addition to paying the top 20 places on a big fish basis, along with the Junior, Lady, and Senior awards, there will be multiple special weights for additional payouts. Most of these special weights will pay $125 apiece, but there are two other special prizes that are a bit more special than the rest.
Two memorial payouts will be in effect for the 2017 tournament. The John Batis (of “Miss Emily” fame) weight will pay $1,000 for a single king alone. Also, the Capt. Caleb Batson memorial award will pay $500, this for the largest aggregate weight of a single king and a single dolphin. Not only will these weights help us remember two icons in the history of fishing in Carolina and Kure Beach, but they will encourage everyone to visit what is regarded as the most exciting weigh in the sport has to offer.
The Got Em On Live Bait club began in 1979 and has grown through the years to a point where there are now more than 300 active members. The king mackerel tournament was incorporated into the club’s yearly calendar not only as a way to promote tourism on Pleasure Island, but to fund numerous worthy endeavors in the area. According to Donna, the main philanthropy that the event supports is the Marine Sciences Program at Cape Fear Community College, where a now fully-endowed fund allows for students of more moderate means to attend classes tuition-free. The tournament has helped fund the purchase of equipment for the fire department that could not be covered in the town budget. Additionally, the Got Em On Club supports UNCW, the Carolina Beach Inlet Association, Reef Association, Brunswick County Aquatics, Program, the Steve Haydn Lo Tide Run, and Lower Cape Fear Hospice.
Donna states that “The Got Em On is in a unique position where it can actually pay out more than the entry fees that it takes in.” How many tournaments can say that? Strong leadership and community appeal has helped the tournament remain strong and viable throughout the years, even as local, state, and national economies have affected the fishing industry. The sponsorships that the club has found and maintained allows the Got Em On Club to pay up to 110% of entry fees back as prize money, and still have money available to donate to charity.
Lynn Williamson, an original member of the Got Em On Live Bait Club, can remember staying up late the night before awards, stuffing envelopes full of cash for the winners, back before everything was paid by check. He has seen firsthand not only the appeal of this tournament, but the impact it has had on the town of Carolina Beach and the immediate area. Lynn explained that the present day tournament is the result of a merger between the original two king mackerel tournaments in the area, the other being the East Coast Open, hosted in the spring of each year. As a former director of the Got Em On event, he was adamant that the tournament is one that is “For fishermen, but also run by fishermen.” Lynn remains active as a member of the rules committee, and he’ll be there this year, though he no longer enters his tournament boat, the “Trust Fun,” in the contest. Having transitioned to fishing his bay boat for fun, Lynn is still very much a part of what makes this tournament go each and every July.
The Kingfish Cup is extremely proud to have the Got Em On as one of its qualifiers. If history is any indicator, the fishing action will be as hot as the weather this July. Who knows, there may be another 50 pounder sitting at the sea buoy with your name on it!
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
When the smoke had cleared from the 2017 edition of the Jolly Mon, teams that were entered in both the regular tournament and the Kingfish Cup had enjoyed a tremendous amount of success. Out of the top ten fish, only the fifth place king mackerel came on a boat not entered in the series. That means places 1-4 and 6-10 were all Kingfish Cup participants, and these teams all put themselves in the driver’s seat for a trip to the Kingfish Cup Championship. Of course, this immediately begs the question, has the Kingfish Cup established itself as an elite series?
There are two major theories that have been suggested in the two weeks following the first ever Kingfish Cup qualifier. One, could it be that having the additional series, with the increased payout and possibility of going to the championship, has added fuel to everyone’s competitive fire? Or, have the top teams, meaning those that would compete in the tournaments anyway, simply joined the Kingfish Cup to increase their income potential? Let the debates begin.
To some extent, it is hard to accept either of these theories completely. First of all, when there is money on the line, most anglers tend to fish harder and be more aggressive, at least more so than when they are simply fishing for fun. Does more money mean more aggressive fishing behavior? How much harder does a team fish when they are fishing for $30, 000 vs $20, 000? This can be hard to quantify, but one might guess that the difference would be slight, at best. To argue against the second theory, there are a number of excellent king mackerel tournament teams who did not enter the limited entry, 100 boat field. There are a variety of reasons for this, and there are certainly many top-flight teams who didn’t get in simply because of the tight time window to enter. These teams are still good, and highly competitive, they just were underrepresented on the leaderboard in this year’s Jolly Mon. Many Kingfish Cup teams also entered the Jolly Mon and didn’t weigh a fish, so there’s definitely no credence to the idea that a team is better just because they are in the Kingfish Cup.
Mike Miller, captain of Team Man O War/Angler’s Marine doesn’t see the Kingfish Cup as being elite, but he sees it on the road to being so. He thinks it’s a pretty even split between the teams who could be considered elite that were able to gain entry into the Kingfish Cup and those that could not, for whatever reason. Finishing third in the Jolly Mon, he feels that the series could easily become considered elite in season two, provided that some other teams are allowed to compete. The additional competitive level is what attracted him to the Kingfish Cup in the first place, and he feels like other top teams will follow suit. The cream rises to the top…
It is a fact that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. While the Jolly Mon is certainly a major tournament, it represents, at the most, a quarter of the qualifying events in the Kingfish Cup. The data may even be a bit skewed, because this is one of the two tournaments that is in the backyard of a majority of the Kingfish Cup registered teams. The real test, then, will be the Got Em On Tournament in July, hosted in the town of Carolina Beach. While both ports are certainly in bounds for each tournament, the bulk of the entries in this event traditionally fish to the east of the Frying Pan Shoals. You will also see entries from teams that fish in the Got Em On every year, and not necessarily the Jolly Mon, simply because they concentrate their fishing efforts on the Wilmington area. How the Kingfish Cup teams perform in a slightly different theatre, against a greater diversity of competition, will go a long way towards determining whether the Kingfish Cup is truly the elite series that it was created to be.
David Gore, captain of team Top Choice would be an excellent example of an angler with his feet in both worlds. He is based in Wilmington, registered in the Kingfish Cup, and finished fourth in the Jolly Mon, weighing a 31.4 pound king that came from the Christmas Rock, east of the shoals. Riding a hot streak and heading home for the second leg of qualification, Top Choice could well be considered one of the favorites at the Got Em On. I asked David how he felt about the situation. “It’s all well and good,” he said, “But it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s like being the top ranked baseball team in the country. You still have to go play the game and win it. The rankings don’t mean much when you’re out there pitching. Or fishing.”
So, for the short term, the results look rosy. When 9 of the top 10 teams in a major event all have something in common, it turns heads. We’re going to wait, however, until the final standings from Carolina Beach are posted, and the checks are paid, to say that the Kingfish Cup is or is bit truly an elite series. Let this serve as a challenge to all Kingfish Cup teams! You have shown up and shown out once, in the opening event of the season. Now it’s time to go and back it up! We’ll see you at the Municipal Docks in Carolina Beach in July!
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
You have got to be in it to win it. There’s no sense in leaving money on the table. Jeff Crouch, Captain of Team Strictly Business
For Jeff Crouch and Strictly Business, the decision was simple. They entered Levels I, II, and III of the Kingfish Cup on registration day. The captain figured that if they were in for a penny then they were in for a pound and went ahead and pulled the trigger. At this point, he’s happy that he did.
Not counting the substantial Jolly Mon payout, Jeff Crouch has already made $8,835 on a $4,500 investment. So, his payout is 1.96 to 1, already, after one single qualifier event, with a second place fish! Not too shabby at all. If this was a real estate investment, anyone who came that close to doubling up would be jumping up and down for joy.
In the case of the overall Jolly Mon/Kingfish Cup Qualifier winner, it wasn’t quite the same process. Initially, Capt. Jeff Beck and crew were only interested in joining Levels I and II for the season. It took some needling, cajoling, and perhaps a few not-so-well-received (initially) text messages to team member Jeremy Philips to convince the entire Do Work squad that this concept worked best when they pushed all of their chips to the center of the proverbial king mackerel poker table. So they joined Level III.
The $10,610 check that Team Do Work received at the Jolly Mon Awards Ceremony (again, not counting the other mammoth check for the Jolly Mon proper) represents a 2.36 to 1 return on investment already. The team more than doubled up, more than paid for expenses, and secured their spot in the National Championship. Now it’s just a question of what tax bracket they want to fall into with their earnings by the end of the season. Once might assume that Jeremy is laughing at his earlier reaction to those text messages.
Clearly, for some, the decision to Level Up was the right call. For others, it may not have been, at least in the case of the Jolly Mon. The good news is that there is a lot of fishing left for all Kingfish Cup teams. With just a single event in the record book, there are three more, and at the end of the day, only your top three fish count anyway. If you are entered into the Kingfish Cup and weigh a fish that ends up high on the leaderboard, you are most likely going to be glad that you Leveled Up!
It is also worth mentioning that Top Choice’s fourth place fish was more profitable in Kingfish Cup winnings than the third place fish, and Liquid Fire’s sixth place king earned Capt. Mark Henderson more of a Kingfish Cup payout than the fifth place fish, simply because these teams chose to go “All-In.”
The numbers in each Level are now locked, as the season has begun. Level I by default has 100 teams. Level II got 83 entries, where only 75 were projected. Level III got 56 entries on a projection of 60. While Level III might have slightly underachieved, Level II overachieved to a greater degree. There is definitely money in that pot!
In a final homage to Randolph “Kaz” Prince (at least until next year when he potentially competes in the Kingfish Cup) let’s look at the true odds for winning all three levels at the National Championship.
Level I: You invested $500 and you took home $11,250 (not counting winnings along the way). Out of 100 boats, you have a 1% chance exactly of being “that team.” You got 22.5 to 1 on your initial investment. 22.5 * .01 = .225, which are your true odds if you got in on the base Level only.
Level II: You invested $2,000 and you took home $39,260 (not counting winnings along the way). Out of 83 boats, you have a 1.2% chance of being top dog. You made a 19.63 to 1 return on your initial investment. 19.63 * .012 = .236 are your true odds. So, slightly less ratio on your return, slightly better true odds, but a LOT more money.
Level III: You invested $4,500 and took home $70,760 (again, not counting what you won to get there). Out of 56 boats, you have a 1.8% chance of being a true, completely Leveled Up, National Champion. 15.72 to 1 is your return on investment. 15.72 * .018 = .283 are your true odds, the best figure yet. Less ratio on your return, considerably better odds, and the most money you could possibly make in this series.
You now know the payouts. You now know the odds. You now know that Do Work and Capt. Jeff Beck are in the lead and already locked in to their National Championship slip. You know what you have to do. Go be the next winner of a Kingfish Cup Qualifying Event so you, too have a shot at all of this money.
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
There are advantages and disadvantages to fishing a bay boat for king mackerel. The best thing about the experience is the intimacy. You just can’t be this close to the fish in a big boat. Barrett McMullan, Captain of Team OIFC
When it comes to the fishing world, there’s not much that Barrett McMullan hasn’t done. Having fished on three SKA National Championship teams, there’s certainly not much he hasn’t seen in the world of king mackerel tournament fishing! Yet, while most teams seem to always push for a bigger boat and an extra motor, Barrett has gone the other way. He’s fishing the first ever edition of the Kingfish Cup in a 25 foot, Yamaha powered, Contender bay boat. While there may be a few shorter boats in the field, his tournament boat is almost certainly the smallest in terms of total mass. Be that as it may, always remember that it’s the Indian, and not the arrow, that ultimately makes the kill shot with the bow.
Transitioning to king mackerel fishing on a single engine bay boat is perhaps just part of the larger picture when it comes to Barrett’s fishing. Several years ago he joined the professional redfish circuit, and he chases those slot-sized drum in Gulf marshes from a Majek tower boat. Having fished with him in Louisiana, I can say without a doubt that he has mastered the highly technical art of sight casting for reds. It’s a skill set that I absolutely do not possess, closer to bowhunting than other types of fishing, but Barrett has this quarry dialed in from a dozen feet above the water. The same concept of setting up the boat perfectly for the type of fishing you want to do is on display when he chases kings from his bay boat.
To make the bay boat work in the kingfish game, Barrett went with an expanded livewell package. With two large wells (including a circular one built into the rear of the console) he can keep baits separated, happy, and frisky. He’s got the traditional downrigger mount on the gunwale. In lieu of the autopilot setup found on many larger center consoles, a 36 volt, Minn Kota Riptide trolling motor is mounted on the bow. This hardware is of particular importance when he’s fishing solo or with his favorite fishing buddy, his five year old daughter Blakely. With the remote on a lanyard around his neck, he can have total control of the vessel at all times, including when he is setting out or assisting Blakely in angling a fish.
After success in the Junior Jolly Mon with Blakely as the angler, I got the invite to fish with Barrett for the actual Jolly Mon. The weather was forecast to be a bit rougher than during the Junior event, and Barrett is a firm believer in not scarring children for life with a long day in sporty conditions with tournament pressure. We didn’t have the best showing, but it’s clear that fishing these events on such a platform is a pretty reasonable proposition. We covered 157 miles in the ocean for the day, and while we didn’t weigh a king, we had plenty of bites from other species. We even managed to catch a 23.5 inch gag grouper, which swam a good 30 feet off the bottom to bite a downrigger bait. With a crew of two that can communicate and work together, there is virtually no difference in fishability between this boat and a deep-vee model, ten feet longer, with triple engines. You are certainly much closer to the action with the shorter gunwales. Using the trolling motor, you can actually “hover” on a spot that you want to fish, and the easy maneuverability of the vessel is a dream come true when you are hooked up. There really are things you can do with a bay boat that you can’t do in a bigger one. Want to sneak up on a spooky school of bait? This setup moves through the shallows almost like a ghost, and shadows aren’t really an issue. You can net the school without letting them know you’re there.
A more dubious difference I observed very quickly was the lack of a T-top. I ended up with the worst sunburn of my life from the trip. However, the money saved on the fuel bill (we only burned about 40 gallons for the entire day) should allow me to invest in some more serious sunscreen for the next adventure.
King mackerel tournament fishing, bay boat style, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. For larger teams, it would be impossible to cram everyone onto a boat like this. In areas where longer runs are the norm, it probably wouldn’t be the most comfortable option. On a beach bite, or short run on a relatively calm day, this more intimate, economical style of fishing wins in my book, hands down. Besides, if there are six foot waves in the ocean, I’d rather go flounder fishing in the river anyway. Try doing that in a 40 foot center console!
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
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