|Division: 5||Ft. George Island, Florida||JACKSONVILLE SALTWATER CLASSIC||July 6-7, 2012|
Bad Company 51.38, Best at Jacksonville Saltwater Classic
Jacksonville, Florida – Participants in this year's Jacksonville Saltwater Classic were blessed with a weather report calling for light winds and 20% chance of rain and for whatever reason NOAA got this one right. Seas were a little bumpy when everyone checked out but by the time they started fishing the weather couldn't have been better.
Lewis Rogers, fishing with his daughter Elena along with B.J. Pearson, Kristin summers and Carolyn Williams on the Bad Company headed southeast from the St. Johns River check out and ran to the proven fishing grounds at the Get Wet spot. Because the area was full of weeds and Lewis was tired of clearing their lines, he and B.J. decided to head north and look for clean water at a couple of numbers where they had previously caught fish. They tried a couple places but couldn't find any fish and continued their trip north.
Around noon they stopped and set up in 120 feet of water just south of the Elton Bottom. Lewis told me that while they were putting out their spread, a big king attacked one of their baits and took off. B.J. picked up the rod and after a short fight he had the nice "40 pounder" up to the boat but before they were able to stick it, she bit through the leader and was gone. A half hour later they were able to land a twenty pounder and had pretty much given up on finding a better fish when something ate a Lee's Live Bait goggle eye fished 50 feet down on their port downrigger. Lewis picked up the rod and after a couple of long runs and several circles under the boat they had her close enough to see that it was a really nice kingfish. It wasn't long before Lewis worked her close enough to the boat for B.J. to gaff. As soon as she was on ice in their fish bag, the Bad Company made the sixty mile run back to the George Island Marina dock.
They arrived back just as the scales opened at 3:00 and the whole crew was all smiles as they made the long trip up the dock to the Saltwater Classic scales where their big king would weigh 51.38 pounds. For their efforts, the Bad Company crew would take home the events first place check, plus a $15,000 certificate towards the purchase of a new Contender Boat and earn Kristin and Carolyn the tournament's Top Lady Angler Award. Elena would capture both the Jacksonville Saltwater Classic's and the SKA's Top Junior prizes. Their fish would also earn the Bad Company a place in the SKA's 2012 Fifty Pound Club.
As the Bad Company's fish was being weighed, The Oceanview, Ron Roberson's 23' Mercury powered Fountain slid up to the face dock. Ron had a big smile on his face as he pulled a really nice fish out of their fishbag for me to take a picture. "This one is for Rocky" were the first words out of his mouth. Ron's long time fishing partner Rocky Warpol had been killed in a tragic accident just two weeks prior to the event. Their fish would weigh 44.68 pounds and earn the Oceanview the events second place prize. Ron told me that he caught the fish just south of the Elton Bottom in 120' after it ate a runner fished on top right behind the boat.
The third place fish weighed was a 34.96 pounder caught by a non-member team.
Finishing in fourth place was Scott Washington's Reef Thief for a 25.58 pound kingfish. Also fishing on the Yamaha powered Contender were Billy Crabtree, Cole Washington and Robbie Reeves. It was the only fish that they saw all day. When I asked Scott were they caught the fish he told me "At the Cable Bottom, just north of Saint Augustine." When I asked him why they went there he said, "We tried everywhere else!" Billy caught the fish around 3:30 in 120' after it ate a ribbonfish fished 40' down. Scott asked me to thank Strike Zone for all their help and support.
The That's What I Do would finish in fifth place. Fishing on their Mercury powered Donzi sponsored by Snyder Air Conditioning, Amana, and Johnstone Supply, were skipper, David Pickett along with Terry Smith, Asher Lauredsen, Chris Ramsey and junior angler Hunter Markham. David told me that they started the day fishing in 130' of water due east of the Saint Johns Inlet, and by 9:30 had caught four fish including the fish that they weighed. Jerry set the hook and fought their 25.35 pounder after it ate a gog fished forty feet down. After a short fight, Jerry had the fish close enough to the boat for David to gaff. Their fish would not only earn young Hunter the tournament and the SKA second place junior angler prizes, but also the $500 Mercury Scholarship award that we present to the top junior angler fishing on a boat equipped with Mercury Outboards.
The top finishing small boat belonged to a non-member who weighed a 20.02 pound king just a couple hundredths heavier than the King Seeker, Cal Lang's Yamaha powered Bluewater boat that would take home the second place small boat award. Fishing with Cal were Tripp Lang who caught their 20.00 king and Miles Hendrix who gaffed the fish. Their fish also ate a downrigger bait, a pogie fished 40' down in 70' of water Just south of the Saint Marys Inlet. Cal would like to thank both Yamaha and Panama Jack's Sunscreen for all their support for the past several years.
The Jacksonville Saltwater Classic also had a single outboard division that paid two places. Finishing in first in this category was Bob Johnson's Traveler, a seventeen foot Boston Whaler powered by a Mercury outboard. Fishing with Mr. Johnson were Keith and Skyler Lane. For the past eighteen or nineteen years, Bob has towed his little boat south from Asheville, North Carolina to fish Division 5 events. He has proven to everyone that you don't need a big triple engine offshore center console to do well fishing kingfish tournaments. Bob's win in the Fernandina tournament in 2009 was quite an accomplishment but to follow that up with a win in 2011 at the granddaddy of all KMT's, the Greater Jacksonville KMT, is really special.
Bob told me that they started the day fishing in 40' of water 10 miles south of the Saint John's at the Red Tops fishing around several large schools of pogies. After a couple hours without seeing a fish, they had decided make a move further north. As they were picking up to leave their 17.48 king ate a ribbon fish that they were slow trolling 15' down. It would be the only fish that they saw all day.
Finishing in second in the Single Engine division with their 16.95 pound king, was the Southern Style, Grant Powell's little Contender powered by a lone Yamaha outboard. Fishing with Grant were teammates Nolen Brown and Jimmy and Travis McCants.
Thanks go to Terry Adkins and his Bluewater Promotions crew for making everyone feel special and putting together a fun tournament.
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