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TEAM OIFC REPEATS SKA® NATIONALS WIN IN BILOXI

Posted 12/5/2011



Two trips to the Southern Kingfish Association (SKA®) Championships in Biloxi has netted the Yamaha-powered Ocean Isle Fishing Center team two Open Class National Championship titles, one in November of 2009 and now in November 2011.

In 2009 the OIFC Team consisted of two generations of McMullans, the father, Rube, and two sons, Barrett and Brant. Their boat was a 32’ Yellowfin® powered by twin F350 outboards. They used it to win more than enough tournament points to garner an invitation to the National Championships. They came to Biloxi with a lot of confidence, but they also realized they were fishing against 200 of the top tournament teams in the country. On the last day of the event they came to the scales with the largest kingfish weighed in over 20 years of SKA® tournament competition, a monster 74 pounder that shattered the two-day points total for a convincing win. They broke the Mississippi State Kingfish Record for good measure.

Earlier this month, the McMullan clan rode into Biloxi with another invitation to the National Championship, only this time there were three generations aboard that included Brant’s wife, Amy, and their 7-year old daughter, Caroline. They were trailering a new 32’ Yellowfin® complete with a pair of Yamaha F300 outboards that power the boat to 60 MPH top speeds and had been providing flawless performance throughout the season.

The weather forced SKA® head Jack Holmes to cut the fishing from two days -- with teams weighing their largest fish each day -- to a single day, with teams weighed their two largest fish. The team with the highest aggregate weight would be declared the new national champions.

Team OIFC left Saturday morning and made the 84-mile run to the Horseshoe Dome at full speed, and they were one of the first boats on the scene. They had their first fish on as soon as the bait hit the water, and the action never stopped, except when they ran out of live bait.

Amy brought in the first fish, which they estimated at 45 pounds. It went on ice in the fish bag while the rest of the clan was hooking and releasing one 30 to 40-pound king after another. Kings were jumping out of the water all around them, but they realized it would take a bigger fish to make it onto the leader board because most of the boats in the tournament were on the same incredible concentration of kingfish.

“I pulled out a big bluefish we had in the live well,” said Brant, “put it on a rig and let it go. It swam deep, made a few nervous twitches and was eaten by a big king that immediately ran several hundred yards of line off the reel.”

They were forced to run down the big female with the boat. When they had it alongside, Rube gaffed it and brought it aboard. It was bigger than Amy’s fish, so it went in the fish bag to go toward the two fish aggregate weight.
By midday they had run out of live bait so they were forced to run 15 miles to a rig to refill their live wells with whatever they could find, including two large jacks of unknown species.

“We were taking valuable time so we opted to take our chances with what we had and get back to the bite. It proved to be the right move,” said Brant.

Back at the Dome, one of the jacks was inhaled by a king. With Barrett on the rod, the fish fought like another midsize fish, coming to the boat without much of a struggle, but when it was boat side, the 50-pound plus king went crazy. It took all of the team’s skill and some fancy boat handling before the 12’ gaff was planted in their biggest fish of the day.

At the weigh-in, Brant was having a hard time estimating the size of the fish, while hearing stories of other teams weighing 100-pound aggregates.

“I really thought the two fish would be around 99 pounds,” said Brant.

Their smaller fish dropped the scales to 48.43 pounds, while their second fish weighed an impressive 54.70 pounds, for a 103.13-pound, two-fish aggregate weight, which gave the OIFC team the lead.

They parked the boat and came back to watch the rest of the weigh-in as boat after boat weighed good fish, but none quite surpassed their total. When the day was over, they had won two out of the last three Nationals, a truly remarkable feat when you consider that the SKA® has thousands of tournament teams all pursuing the dream of winning the Championship.