King mackerel in the northern Gulf of Mexico are often larger than fish caught near Tampa Bay, and several contestants at the Southern Kingfish Association's National Championship in Biloxi, Miss., stretched the scales with fish that bordered on ridiculous.
Rick Smith of Brunswick, Ga., aboard Wild Turkey, weighed two fish, a 58.52-pounder and a 55.52-pounder, that totaled 114.04 to win the open division and a boat-motor-trailer package. Robert Olsen of Charleston, S.C., captain of Knot@Work weighed two fish 47.86 and 49.29 for 97.15 pounds to win the division for boats that measured 23 feet or less.
But few of the anglers who qualified from the Tampa Bay area had as much success hunting the big fish around the oil platforms and artificial structure of the northern gulf, and none cracked the top 40 of the open division. After qualifying from divisions spread across eight states, anglers had two days, Friday and Saturday, to fish and could weigh one fish each day.
John Smith of Treasure Island, the Division 6 Top Boat Open Class winner, and his team aboard Et Tu Brute didn't have much luck on the first day, with a 27.58-pound king to weigh. But things improved the second day, and Et Tu Brute weighed a 55.61-pounder for 83.19 total.
Dave Mistretta's Jaws Too team from Indian Rocks Beach weighed a 49.19-pounder and a 33.91-pounder for 83.10.
Surreel out of Treasure Island with Steven Hayes weighed a 42.82 and a 35.42 for 78.24 total. ... Team World Cat out of Palm Harbor with Rod Westenbroek weighed a 30.03 and a 31.39 for 61.42. ... Largo's Sam Maisano on Go Fast Fishing landed a 48.37 and a 33.65. ... Greg Campbell and his Minus One team out of Largo totaled 82.39. ... Seminole's Justin Wert and Team Mayhem caught 77.77 pounds. ... Brian Hasson of St. Petersburg and his Knot Me landed a 42.35-pounder on day one and finished with 79.68. ... Other teams from the Tampa Bay area that weighed fish each day included Bay Pines Marine, Dead Serious, Penny Wise, Digestible, Team Reel Easy.com and Just Rosey.