St. Petersburg, Florida — Great weather and big kings headlined the 24th Annual Spring Suncoast Kingfish Classic in St. Petersburg the second weekend of April. The weighmaster got a workout putting one 60-pounder, two 50s, and eight 40-pound kingfish on the hanging scales. The old record on the West Coast of Florida was 58.03 pounds—that number was bested twice over the weekend. A non-member put a 61.06 on the board for first place.
Taking second place was long-time SKA member Kenny Dellane and his ProMarineUSA.com team with a fantastic 58.15 pounder. Dellane and his team of Chad Hickman and Steve Dellane fish a 32’ Jupiter powered by Mercury. They went west to a spot they had pre-fished earlier in the week and put out a spread of freshly caught blue runners. The 58 hit the downrigger set to 60 feet about 1:00 in the afternoon and a 20-minute fight ensued before Hickman could set the gaff and bring her in. The team had three other kings in the 50-pound range. They would like to thank sponsors Mercury, Under Armour, PromarineUSA.com, and Sunbelt Rental.
Richard Fabrizi’s Team Kingfish Connection joined the 2015 SKA 50-pound Club, too, with a nice 50.49. Fabrizi and Ryan Farner pre-fished on their 36’ Yamaha-powered Yellowfin and the research paid off. They were in 120’ of slick calm water when the 50 hit a blue runner set to 40’ on the downrigger. The fight lasted less than 20 minutes and Farner set the gaff. They had three other nice kings that day and enjoyed the great weather and ocean conditions. Team Kingfish Connection appreciates the support of Three Olives, KFC, Huk, Elder Ford and Yamaha.
Jim Kelly and his Seas the Day team had the heaviest 40 of the day—a 49.56 to be exact. Kelly and his team of Perry Warner, Rick Dittman and Lance Herring pointed the bow of their 40’ Mercury-powered Intrepid south where they heard fish were holding in about 60 feet of water. They were pulling a spread of speedos in flat calm water when their king hit a flat line at about 1:30. Warner picked up the rod and fought the slab for 30 minutes to get her within Dittman’s gaff range. The team thanks sponsors Intrepid, Simrad, Flir and Jim Kelly, Inc.
Team Native caught a 48.80 placing fifth and earning Chelsey Silverthorne Top Lady Angler honors. Under Armour Fishing Team’s Dominic Molfetos was the Top Junior Angler with a 44.84. Connor and Dylan Weldon took second place juniors on Horizon Haze and Landon Hession took third on Last Call.Great weather, rumors of big fish coming to the scales and substantial payouts drew nearly 1,000 spectators to the site on Saturday for the final weigh-in. That’s about 300 more than Friday’s crowd. More than 90 boats entered at least one category of the 24th Annual Suncoast Kingfish Classic presented by Central Marine/Yamaha. The Gene Turner memorial category continues to grow and paid $2,500 first place this year. If you’ve fished on Florida’s West Coast, you know about Gene Turner and his contributions to the sport. It’s only fitting to have a tournament named after him.
Apparently kingfish are going to show up in a big way for Division 6 events; you should, too!