The second weekend of October has long been known as the weekend of the mullet in Swansboro. But beginning this year, the mullet will have to share some of the headlines on that particular weekend with a few other species of fish, such as the king mackerel, speckled trout and lizard fish. That’s because after 30 years of fishing in late May, the Swansboro Rotary King Mackerel/Blue Water Fishing Tournament is making a major change.
In an effort to stage the event in the peak of the inshore fishing season, the king mackerel tournament will be fished on Mullet Festival Saturday. This year the date for the king tourney will be October 9th. The bluewater tournament will continue to be fished on Memorial Day Weekend, which will take place on May 28-29, 2010.
The name of the tourney will change, now being referred to as the Swansboro Rotary Fishing Tournament Series. There’s also been an addition to the king mackerel tourney, with the addition of a speckled trout and lizardfish tournament.
“We wanted to reach out to more fishermen,” said tournament director David Nance. “In recent years the king mackerel winners have been in larger boats and are often members of a team. By introducing the inshore tournament for the speckled trout and lizardfish we’re making an attempt to bring the community back into the event. With the implementation of the inshore tournament, we believe that anyone with a 16-foot boat can get out there and compete.”
Swansboro Rotarian Barry Matthews is a former Southern Kingfishing Association National Champion, and he’s also a member of the tournament committee.
He explained that by moving the king tournament to the fall, the fishing should be better and easier. "We’ve had some erosion on the king mackerel side of tournament for several years,” he explained. “We were able to erase some of that erosion with our guaranteed purse for first and second place. But all of a sudden last year we only had about 130 king mackerel boats, and that was somewhat disappointing to the fishing tournament committee,” he continued. “We looked at several things responsible for the decline in boats, and the unpredictable weather and king mackerel fishing that early in the season were two of the biggest reasons.”
King mackerel fishing in our area is just beginning to take off in late May, and it peaks in the fall. “King mackerel are not here in great numbers in late May like they were years ago,” explained Matthews. “The kings are much more prevalent in the Onslow Bay area in the fall, and the weather’s generally nicer, as well. The tournament committee does everything it can for the enjoyment and safety of the king mackerel anglers who fish our tournament, and all of them we’ve spoken with like the idea of the fall tournament.”
This year’s tournament will not have a guaranteed purse, but based on a field of 200 boats, first place will be worth $25,000, second $10,000 and third $6,000. The number of boats fishing in the bluewater tournament might also climb, especially this year. Since a yellowfin tuna hasn’t been landed in the tournament in several years, the purse for the biggest yellowfin has risen to $13,744. And that’s before any boats have registered this year. There’s a chance that if enough boats sign-up for the yellowfin tuna competition, the purse could be in the neighborhood of $30,000. “Because the purse for the yellowfin tuna could be around $30,000, we expect to see some of the bigger king mackerel boats enter and try to win that category,” said Nance. “They won’t have to go so far off-shore, so we think that opens it up for some of our local anglers.”
For more information, please call (910) 326-6175 or visit swansbororotary.com.