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Pair of 43-pound king mackerel highlight opening day of Fishing for Miracles

Seeing the scales squeak past 43 pounds at a king mackerel fishing tournament is a good feeling for fishermen. But it wasn’t a feeling that lasted long on Friday’s opening day of the 19th annual Key West Boats Fishing for Miracles King Mackerel Tournament.

The first boat back to the Ripley Light Yacht Club docks was the Freeman 33, Ripple Effect out of Charleston, and the crew let out a big whoop when their weight of 43.24 pounds was announced. But the elation lasted only minutes as the next crew, Sweet Sarah IV out of Beaufort, hauled a 43.93-pound king mackerel to be weighed.

Those two were the only king mackerel to make it past 40 pounds, but there five more fish brought in that weighed in the 30-pound class.

Last year’s event was won by Team Sperry-Net Profit with a 40.60-pound catch. The Net Profit crew won $43,600 from the various tournament categories. The tournament pays 30 places, and the unofficial 30th-place boat at the moment has a 23.65-pound catch. This year’s tournament drew 152 entries.

Both of Friday’s big fish were caught early. Sweet Sarah, captained by Nick Russell, hooked up on a “way, way back line” at about 8:15 a.m. Ripple Effect, captained by Billy Freeman, hooked up at 8 a.m.

Today’s final day of fishing begins at 6:30 a.m., with the weigh-in running from 1-4 p.m. Proceeds from the tournament benefit the MUSC Children’s Hospital and Coastal Conservation Association-South Carolina.

Sweet Sarah IV, Nick Russell, 43.93 pounds; Ripple Effect, Arthur Simons, 43.24; Reelin, Mark Pincus, 37.56; Sea Scaper, Dennis Hensley, 33.80; Yates-Sea, David Yates, 31.72; Fish Hunter, Melvin Knight, 30.96; Team Sperry-Net Profit, Bryan Baxter, 30.39; Solid Surface, Andy Nettles, 29.94; Reel Time, Rich Bermundez, 29.58; Nomad, Simons Hane, 29.18; Yard Boy, John Walpole Jr., 29.12; Lil Love, Maci Dean, 28.94; Eren’s Addiction, Jack Bracewell, 28.43; Fishful Thinking, J. Baisch, 28.20; Seadog, James Johnson, 28.10.

Half Mine II, Preston Knight, 27.59; Gilligan, Gene Dupre, 27.42; Hammer Down, Monty Bates, 26.59; Big Bad Wolf, Stacy Wester, 26.59; The Blue Bull, David Tomberlin, 26.57; Bottom Line, Thomas Murray, 25.96; MSC, Craig Hoover, 25.86; Flip Side, Phillip Sawyer, 25.65; BeerAbility, Dow Suggs, 25.50; Reel Nice, Brian Bethard, 25.30; Dun Wishin, Andrew Winter, 24.44; Stray Dog, Chris Rosengarten, 24.33; Drawin’ A Blank, John Scott Stauss, 24.05; Miller Time, Chuck Miller, 23.86; Hang On, Winfield Scott, 23.65.

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