Stuck on the crosstown because of heavy flooding Saturday as he headed from his Mount Pleasant home to the Fishing for Miracles King Mackerel Tournament awards ceremony at Ripley Light Yacht Club in West Ashley, John Kicklighter was thinking he should have been making the trek in his boat KickBack.
Kicklighter and his sons Brad, 16, and Ben, 14, managed to avoid the heavy thunderstorm while fishing and were waiting at the dock 10 minutes before the weigh station opened at 1 p.m. with a catch that was the tournament's heaviest fish, 43.03 pounds.
Two hours later a thunderstorm blew in and the high winds nearly lifted the tent where the weigh-in was taking place. Spectators evacuated to more permanent structures and the weigh-in continued.
Ben was the angler while Brad handled the gaffing duties for KickBack's catch.
"What was I thinking when we got the fish in the boat? I thought it was an absolute miracle," Kicklighter laughed. "Everybody worked well together. It was about a 30-minute fish."
The fish was caught at approximately 10 a.m. in 80 feet of water with a live menhaden fished off an outrigger. The crew also had a 28-pound catch that did not count since boats were allowed to weigh only one fish. Kicklighter said he had fished the tournament for 15 years, but only the last three with his sons. Ben Kicklighter was the crew's designated angler and won the tournament's youth angler award. KickBack won a total of $18,080.
KickBack's catch narrowly beat out a 42.11-pound catch by Melvin Knight aboard Fish Hunter. Knight said the Fish Hunter crew caught a 28-pound fish at 11:40 a.m. and their second-place fish at 11:50 a.m. Fish Hunter won a total of $15,016, including the two-fish aggregate weight award with 74.69 pounds.
Third-place finisher Solid Surface, owned by Andy Nettles, won a total of $8,934.
First-day leader Knot Guilty's 35.24-pound catch dropped to sixth place.
1. KickBack, John Kicklighter, 43.03; 2. Fish Hunter, Melvin Knight, 42.11; 3. Solid Surface, Andy Nettles, 37.11; 4. Salt Shaker, Grande, 35.97; 5. Reef Jerky, Richard Moore, 35.65; 6. Knot Guilty, Alan Richey, 35.24; 7. Mondo, Jeffrey Shupping, 32.59; 8. Garmin/Total Chaos, Jason Solano, 32.41; 9. DDZ, Dennis Schaffer, 32.15; 10. Mangler, Mo Mangan, 31.91; 11. Raisin Hayes, Randy Wirth, 31.11; 12. Hard Rock, Rock Powell, 30.73; 13. In 2 Deep, Kevin O'Neale, 29.71; 14. Tailwalker, Stuart Ballard, 29.63; 15. Yates Sea, David Yates, 29.31.
16. Knot @ Work, Robert Olsen, 28.48; 17. Gas Money, James Lane, 28.35; 18. Row Boat, Maci Dean, 28.20; 19. Sea Scaper, Dennis Hensley, 28.09; 20. Aqua Loco, Joshua Baker, 28.09; 21. Reelist, Trae Everett, 27.73; 22. Pole Dancer, David Hartness, 27.49; 23. Beer Ability, Dow Suggs 27.21; 24. Half Mine II, Preston Knight, 27.05; 25. Genuine Risk, Derek Nobles, 26.99; 26. A Little Guilty, Robert Wyndham, 26.94; 27. Chile Pepper, John Gaeto, 26.85; 28. Hammer Down, Monty Bates, 26.73; 29. Big Deal, Oliver Burwell, 26.69; 30. Houdini, Rich Bermudez, 26.64.
LADY ANGLER: Ericka Kone, Salt Shaker Grande, 35.97.
YOUTH ANGLER: Ben Kicklighter, KickBack, 43.03; Andy Nettles, 37.11.
WAHOO: Oliver Burwell, Big Deal, 62.27.
HANCKEL: Robert Olsen, Knot @ Work, 28.48.
SINGLE OUTBOARD: Richard Moore, Reef Jerky, 35.65; Dennis Schafer, DDZ, 32.15; Rock Powell, Hard Rock, 30.73.
EARLY ENTRY: Melvin Knight, Fish Hunter, 42.11.
TWT LARGEST FISH: KickBack, John Kicklighter, 43.03; Fish Hunter, Melvin Knight, 42.11; Solid Surface, Andy Nettles, 37.11.
TWT AGGREGATE: Fish Hunter, Melvin Knight, 74.69; Knot Guilty, Alan Richey, 65.91; Solid Surface, Andy Nettles, 64.58.
SUPER: Fish Hunter, Melvin Knight, 42.11; Solid Surface, Andy Nettles, 37.11; Knot Guilty, Alan Richey, 35.24.