11th Annual Golden Isles Kingfish Classic
Brunswick boat claims 2005 Kingfish Classic title.
What happened to the kingfish bite? That was the question many were asking as they prepared for the 11th annual Golden Isles Kingfish Classic last month, Georgia’s largest saltwater tournament. Early season tropical weather and abundant rainfall seemed to have put the kingfish off the feed. Mid-July is normally the peak of the kingfish run, but the scouting reports were bleak. Despite this, 151 boats entered the event hoping to win the top prize of a Contender center-console boat.
Even if the fish were not cooperating, the weather did, and anglers were greeted with flat calm seas on both mornings of the event. The calm seas made a huge difference for the team of Leland Ring, Jeff Williams Sr. and Jeff Williams Jr. aboard the boat, TYJ. They had plans to head 40 miles offshore to a spot well known to team captain, Leland Ring. He theorized that all the freshwater had pushed the big kings from their normal nearshore haunts out into deeper water. His theory would be proven correct in just a matter of a few hours.
Leland recalled the details, “Just after noon, a downrigger bait was hit by a beeliner (a small snapper). Jeff Jr. decided to keep the fish for supper and put it on ice in the fish box. A little voice told me to put that beeliner out as bait, so down it went. Within a few minutes we were hooked up. I fought the fish while Jeff Jr. handled the gaff. When he heaved the fish into the boat, I knew we had something special.”
The fish weighed 47.61 pounds and cinched the victory for the TYJ team. The next-heaviest fish was just over 40 pounds. “This has been a long time coming,” said Ring who has fished mackerel tournaments since the 1980s.
The second-place prize based on the two-day weight of 67.06 pounds went to the crew of the Holiday Out from Waycross. Kelly Veal, also of Waycross, claimed the lady angler honors with a 31.41-pounder caught on the SeaDucer, while junior angler honors went to Elliott Phillips aboard Double Gobble.
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