Glenn Krofchick, team captain of Lil Jon/Reel ‘Em Up Fishing Team keeps one of the busiest schedules in the entire sport. In addition to his full-time job, Glenn managed to fish a total of 18 king mackerel tournaments in 2017. Between the regular seasons for the Kingfish Cup, Cape Shootout Series, and Southern Kingfish Association and the prospective championships for each of those divisions, he is on pace to fish the same number of events this year as well. One thing is for certain, he’s already punched his ticket for the Kingfish Cup Championship in Ocracoke this November, as the 34.75 pounder that he weighed in the Jolly Mon netted him not only north of $37,000, but a guaranteed entry to the final North Carolina tournament of the year.
Glenn had originally taken off the entire week leading up to the Jolly Mon to fish the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in Morehead City with a friend, which would have put him down in Ocean Isle Beach on Friday. However, the boat he was fishing on broke down, so he got to Brunswick County a day earlier than planned for additional prep time. This gave him the entire day Friday to look for bait and pre-fish. He planned to make bait all morning and go scouting, but catching bluefish was a lot harder than he had originally thought. Working up the beach from Shallotte Inlet, he finally found (on another friend’s tip) a small concentration of bluefish near Southport. He didn’t get to do the scouting he wanted, but prior to the Jolly Mon’s captain’s meeting, he had managed a decent amount of bait-sized blues and some small pogies. The full day getting ready also showed him a route through the inlet, and convinced him to get up earlier on tournament day than he had originally thought, as he realized his first plan would have him going through Shallotte Inlet on a dead low tide. Asleep by 8:30 on Friday, he got up at 3:30 on tournament morning and got the team together. Glenn, Hunter Moore, and Inman Coleman were through the inlet by 4:15 and headed approximately 50 miles offshore on the team’s Yamaha powered Contender 31. For this team, and so many others, the 2018 king mackerel tournament season had truly (finally) begun!
Team Lil Jon/Reel ‘Em Up struggled for the first hour without a single bite. A 15 mile run following their first stop ended up not only in them feeding one of their prized bluefish to a 40 pound barracuda, but it put their pogies in peril as well. A livewell pump had quit on the boat’s center well during their move, and with no alarm on that well, the crew had no idea until they stopped. They made a quick switch to one of the transom wells and were able to save enough to keep fishing, but only ended up with more barracudas, sharks, and amberjacks. They had one more spot in the vicinity to try, so the team decided to tough it out through a building head sea for one more stop. It was just a few miles, so why not leave it all out there on the water?
At their final stop, it didn’t take long before they got a bite on their second-to-last bluefish on a top line. Glen said that the big king bit, but didn’t run immediately. The fish either didn’t know it was hooked, or just slashed the bait, then came back for the pieces, but after that, it was on! The boat was pointed into the waves while the smoker took off downsea. Glenn spun around, while Hunter angled the fish, and Inman attempted to clear the rest of the gear. As soon as he got the Contender turned, the line came back onto the reel fast, as the king doubled back at the boat! Inman had to run to the bow with the gaff and nailed the fish as it tried to swim past, and ended up nearly going over the bow! Ultimately, he stayed in the boat, but the team’s 12’ gaff now has a nice bend in, due to the fast and furious nature of the fight. The fish made it into the boat as well, and quickly into the fish bag. The team kept fishing for a while, but it became clear pretty quickly that the seas were still building on the easterly wind, and it didn’t look like they were going to improve on their fish. They started home at 2:30, and looking at the tides, decided to go via the Cape Fear River Channel then chance semi-familiar Shallotte Inlet at another lunar low tide. They made the weigh in with plenty of time to spare and vaulted into first place overall. Sunday could have been a relaxing day, but there were certainly nerves while waiting to see if they would hold. The weight did hold, and Lil Jon/Reel ‘Em Up were crowned the 2018 Jolly Mon Champions!
With their extensive fishing schedule, long list of sponsors including Moore’s BBQ, Raleigh East Concrete, E&J Automotive, Fish Hard Gear, Garmin, Yamaha, Contender, and Accurate Fishing Reels, and overall love of the sport, it was a great weekend for Lil Jon/Reel ‘Em Up Fishing Team. Glenn stated that this would be his biggest ever payday for a single tournament. This team has certainly earned it. They have just opened the door for more winnings as well. One boat, in a potential field of 34, has earned their spot to the richest king mackerel tournament in the sport, to be held the first weekend in November.
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
This isn’t ‘chump change’ that we’re fishing for. Wade Long, Captain of Team Longshot
Recently, the rules of competition within the Kingfish Cup changed, if only a little bit. Now, anglers who catch a weighable king mackerel in a Kingfish Cup event are required to take a picture of the freshly caught king with a daily hand signal, a signal that isn’t known until the morning of the tournament day. This measure, formally introduced at the Kingfish Cup Captain’s Party prior to the Jolly Mon, is a further step towards eliminating cheating and ensuring a level playing field for all competitors, something that all honest teams see the need for. While it does not eliminate the polygraph test, it does streamline the process, and in theory, should provide the tournament director with another tool when deciding who to apply any polygraphs to. So, after one tournament with the new hand signals in place, what do the anglers think?
Rick Earnhardt, captain of the Wrong Hole, and Jolly Mon runner up is on board with the hand signals protocol, but still thinks that a polygraph examiner should be on hand. He used the system for the first time in the Jolly Mon, just like the majority of the field, and he said that he’s just fine with using it for the rest of the season and going forward. Rick and his team are also heavily involved in racing, another sport where cheating can rear its ugly head. Rick said that he sees a lot of similarities when it comes to trying to police and eliminate cheating in both racing and king mackerel fishing.
“People will cheat, regardless of what you are trying to do. This just makes it tougher for them.”
Furthermore, Rick believes that the day will come when a team does get caught cheating, regardless of the controls in place. It’s highly possible that some team attempts to skirt the hand signal protocol and then flunks the polygraph test. At that point, the system will have worked, but Rick feels that you have to go a step further.
“When someone does get caught cheating, you are just going to have to make an example out of them.” Rick didn’t have a specific punishment in mind immediately, but it would probably be safe to say that the caught team probably wouldn’t be fishing Kingfish Cup tournaments anymore!
According to Team Longshot captain Wade Long, the hand signals protocol should have been put into place “years ago.” He’s a huge proponent of any kind of control that leads to fair play. Wade says that he and his team are a stickler for the rules of each event, but that he can’t be so sure about everyone else. He compared tournament fishing to society as a whole.
“People rob banks every day in this world, it just happens.” It’s not hard to see that someone taking a check by cheating, over a team who played by the rules, is virtually the same thing as theft. With $397,800 to be awarded to Kingfish Cup Teams in 2018, we have the potential for huge theft. Whatever steps that can be taken to deter it are steps that need to be taken.
It doesn’t sound like there is much resistance to the hand signals protocol with Kingfish Cup teams. It is a new system, so there is definitely a learning curve. One could see where it might be a bit of a hassle to get a quick photo, especially if you were on a two man team, on a hot bite, in rough seas. However, it is important in ensuring that the right people ultimately walk across the stage to collect the right check, and at the end of the season, go on and fish the Kingfish Cup Championship. That’s why it needs to be in place.
The polygraph won’t go away anytime soon, but our sport now has another tool to ensure its legitimacy. Let’s embrace it.
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
Well folks, in addition to upping the ante for the Kingfish Cup Angler of the Year award with regards to the payout, the folks at Yamaha have done it again. The new addition to their lineup of engines, the F425XTO, might be the most technologically complete outboard engine ever. Let’s examine that statement for a second.
Yamaha saw the need for a true, big-block outboard engine over a decade ago, and released their F350 series, powered by a 5.3L V8, in 2007. These engines made an instant impact on the tournament king mackerel circuit, and for a moment, a 36’, stepped hull center console, powered by 1,050 horsepower by strapping them in a triple configuration (complete with a specialized steering system to handle their weight and power) was the boat to have in the sport. There are certainly plenty of teams still fishing the F350, but just like boat builders, Yamaha saw the need to go bigger and badder. The new F425 boasts a slightly bigger V8 block (5.6L vs 5.3) but there are other, more apparent improvements on the new engine as well.
With the push towards bigger and bigger outboard-powered center consoles and express boats, steering them is an issue that has to be compensated for. The F425 has its own electrical steering system, a true departure from the hydraulic systems that have been the industry standard for years and years. No more steering rams to reseal and no more leaky lines or fittings. In addition, the F425 and its steering system will integrate with Yamaha’s Helm Master setup, which allows for independent turning of engines. This system allows for precision control, especially when docking. As it is now fairly common to see center consoles in the 40’ range, you will see more and more boats incorporate this technology going forward. When you’re weighing in at dead low tide in a tight canal (Jolly Mon, anyone?) this is a true difference maker.
To increase fuel economy, Yamaha has gone to a true direct injection system, the first such system to be used in a four-stroke marine outboard. Direct injection is used almost exclusively now in the automotive industry and has been used in two-strokes outboards previously as well, but this is the first time it has crossed this threshold. Coupled with an increased compression ratio, the F425 promises to not only increase the efficiency of the engine, but decrease emissions as well.
Speaking of emissions, Yamaha has also found a way to offset a problem inherent to many outboards, which is decreased thrust in reverse, mainly because exhaust exits the motor through the props hub, therefore cancelling out some of the work that the propeller is doing. In the F425, the exhaust is shunted until the engine reaches 2500 rpm, which will make this motor back up better than any previous Yamaha offering. Again these motors, in whatever configuration you go with, will make docking a lot easier than before.
There are other tweaks as well. Yamaha has beefed up the gearcase, allowing for props of up to 17 1/8 inches. The cooling system now incorporates a two stage water pump, allowing for cooling of the engine and the oil independently. The alternator is rated at a max output of 90 amps, designed to handle the bigger charging loads for systems in these larger boats. A modular cowling system makes routine maintenance easier as well. Oh yeah, the lower unit trims completely out of the water this time as well.
It won’t be long before you are seeing the first F425 powered kingfish boats compete in the Kingfish Cup. Yamaha’s newest motor is perfectly designed to fill a growing niche, pushing the biggest boats that anglers are flocking to, to handle adverse weather and gain more comfort on the water. This writer is very excited to see exactly what a 39 Contender is capable of, with three of these new motors strapped to its transom.
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
After holding our collective breaths for the last few days, there is good news on the weather front for the East Coast Got ‘Em On tournament, hosted this weekend out of Carolina Beach. While Tropical Storm Chris has been hanging out offshore of the Carolina coast, we can expect the storm to be well out of range by the weekend. According to Steven Pfaff at NOAA:
“After some additional meandering by the storm on Monday, the storm should begin to lift north on Monday night, then northeast at a quicker pace Tuesday into Wednesday. A front will make its way into the area by Thursday with the potential for showers and thunderstorms. At this point the back swell from Chris will weaken through Thursday.”
What should follow this tropical system, the first of the 2018 season, should be a system of high pressure, leading to stable conditions for this weekend’s tournament. With the seas subsiding late Thursday into Friday, anglers will have ample opportunity to pre-fish or catch bait before the tournament begins in earnest on Saturday.
What we don’t know yet is what this tropical storm has done to change the king mackerel fishing. What 2018 has already delivered on is much improved consistency over 2017, especially with numbers of fish. The kings that simply were in short supply for recreational and charter boats last year have showed in much greater abundance this year, leading to more productive trips. Those kings won’t leave the area due to a minor tropical storm, but they could well shift where they are holding. Finding the new concentrations of kings after the storm will be a major piece of the Got ‘Em On puzzle.
Catching bait will be another vital issue that will go a long way towards determining success in the Got ‘Em On. Any water disturbing event will change where bait is holding, and this storm will be no different. The most successful teams will most likely use Friday to their advantage in terms of bait locating and collection. Brunswick County based teams, used to southerly facing beaches always have to make an adjustment when catching bait in the Carolina Beach area, as the more easterly orientation of the beaches in New Hanover County means deeper water on the beach. This has to be factored into the bait equation as well. Of course, the Jolly Mon winner came on a bluefish, so a hopeful team might do well to put their work into catching a livewell full of big baits. In any event, it might be a good idea to be well stocked with ribbonfish and other dead bait, just in case…
With boundaries from the bottom of Cape Lookout to Georgetown, changing conditions, and rough seas subsiding to very nice conditions, the East Coast Got ‘Em On promises to be a wide open affair. The winner could conceivably come from as far away as Morehead, or as close as the famed Carolina Beach Sea Buoy area, which will certainly see its share of traffic during fishing days. This two day event is a great opportunity for teams to gain a lot of momentum going into the “halftime” of the Kingfish Cup schedule.
We’ll see you at Carolina Beach!
Just go fishing!
Capt. Chris Burrows
Click on the tournament below to view photo galleries from that tournament. All photos copyright © 2018 The Kingfish Cup Series
Qualifying Event Locations
Tournament Fishing Website by InterCoastal Net Designs