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Tournament Insider

Team Lagerhead, led by Capt. Steve Papen of Seminole, caught a 36.8-pound kingfish to win the Gators Kingfish Classic Sunday at Gators on the Pass in Treasure Island. Fishing a 33-foot center console powered by triple 250-horsepower outboards, Papen teamed with Bryan Simmons of Largo and Doug Speeler and Corey Alley, both of Madeira Beach. They won $10, 000.

By DAVID BROWN, Times Correspondent
Published May 14, 2007


Team Lagerhead, led by Capt. Steve Papen of Seminole, caught a 36.8-pound kingfish to win the Gators Kingfish Classic Sunday at Gators on the Pass in Treasure Island. Fishing a 33-foot center console powered by triple 250-horsepower outboards, Papen teamed with Bryan Simmons of Largo and Doug Speeler and Corey Alley, both of Madeira Beach. They won $10, 000.

The spot

The winning team ran 70 miles west of John's Pass and fished big ledges in 180 feet of water. Papen said 75-degree water temperature and abundant forage looked favorable for kingfish. "The temperature reports said that was the right place to be, " he said. "Also, there was a ton of bait out there." Team Lagerhead hooked its big king at 9 a.m. on Day 1 of the two-day event. The team fished again Sunday at a more relaxed pace. "We went out Sunday and prefished for the next tournament, " Papen said. "We figured we had a pretty good fish."

The bait

The winning kingfish hit a live blue runner on a downrigger set at 40 feet. The team had caught its bait before the tournament by working sabiki rigs in the Egmont Channel. Papen said the big-bait, big-fish theory proved true for his team. "It was a huge bait, the biggest we could find, " he said. "That's what's out there. You have to match the hatch. Whatever they're eating is what you want to use."

The catch

On the strike, Papen handled the rod and Speeler gaffed the fish after a 15-minute fight. Spending most of his time at the helm, the captain relished the opportunity to crank on a king. "That was nice because I don't often get to do that, " he said. "The fish made a couple of big runs and came right up." Papen said prefishing for this and other local tournaments steered him to the right location. "We've been kingfishing for the past month so we knew where to go, " he said.

Best of the rest

Idle Time finished second with a 35.20-pound kingfish, Marshall Law took third with 34.96, ProMarine/Penny Wise placed fourth with 33.52 and Knot Me was fifth with 32.96. Knot Me also won the 23-Under Division. Kingsize topped the Ladies Division with a 32.64-pound king and ProMarine/Penny Wise won the Youth Division with 33.52.