John and Carol Gourdin are determined to send out the Fishing for Miracles King Mackerel Tournament with a bang.
It was decided earlier this year that this year's 25th anniversary tournament would be the final Fishing for Miracles tournament, and for one reason alone it's going to be a memorable event.
The tournament was begun in 1994 by Dan Muckenfuss and Dennis Lee with an objective of raising funds for the Medical University of South Carolina's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina. This year's event will see the charitable donation top $1 million. Much of that has come during the last four tournaments, with just under $250,000 divvied up between MUSC's PICU and CCA South Carolina.
"It gives me goose bumps when I think about that," said John Gourdin, who co-chairs the tournament with his wife.
Gourdin said he doesn't want to take credit for that benchmark. The credit belongs to others who have helped make the event successful throughout its history. And he credits Carol, who has done much of the bookkeeping and sold sponsorships. The primary sponsor of this year's event is Hanckel Marine.
"Back when they started the tournament, they raised money and awareness for both charities. A lot of people were involved and it grew into a family thing. People who participated as anglers, volunteers, sponsors, they all grew into a family," Carol Gourdin said.
Participation has varied over the years. In 2005 a record number of boats (288) fished the tournament. The lowest number was 114 boats in 2014. In 2017, the event saw its largest payout of $109,204 with 118 boats participating. The tournament was won by Capt. Marc Pincus and angler Chris Prince of Hilton Head, who collected $46,214 with a 52.8-pound king mackerel.
Tournament information can be found at fishingformiracles.org. Registration for the tournament begins at 5 p.m. Thursday at Ripley Light Yacht Club, with the captain's meeting at 7 p.m. Fishing days are Friday and Saturday, with weigh-ins from 2-5 p.m. Friday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. The entry fee is $350 per boat.
There also will be a separate inshore tournament for trout, sheepshead and flounder on Saturday. The entry fee for that event is $50 per angler, and the weigh-in will be from 3-5 p.m.
This year's top prize is $15,000, based upon 125 paid entries, and the top 20 boats will earn prizes. All of the prize purse comes from tournament entry fees, with sponsorship money and other events adding to the charitable contribution.
In addition to T-shirts and tournament buckets for this year's event, there also will be tournament T-shirts from previous years available. There also will be silent auctions.
The Gourdins said they have heard from a number of people in the angling community that they want to fish this year because it is the final one.
"A lot of people haven't fished since the '90s but they are going to this year because they remember the good times," Carol Gourdin said. "It's going to be a great tournament."
JIYC Fishing Tournament
Net Profit won the 2018 James Island Yacht Club Fishing Tournament with a 44.20-pound king mackerel caught by Matt DeAntonio. Second place in the king mackerel division went to Ben Freeman, aboard Mas Pescado with a 43.75-pound king.
Cayson Warner, aboard Knot Billable, was third with a 39.40-pound catch, followed by: Jimbo Smoak, Roc Doc, 38.75; William Freeman, Hard Rock, 36.80; Pat Sullivan, Nauti Gull, 36.75; Cole Suggs, High Maintenance, 35.05; Ryan Balderson, Team Sea Fox, 34.95; Amy Corbin, Team Corbin, 31.95; and Tre Everett, Reelist, 31.45. Other category winners included: Spanish mackerel - Christi Hensley, 5.31. Trout - Carlo Marino, 2.96; Cameron Luden, 2.64; Matt Mason, 2.61. Flounder - Cameron Luden, 2.79; Cameron Luden, 2.76; Tom Ledford, 2.59. Sheepshead - Scott Blanton, 7.85; Jim Koches, 6.47; Jim Koches, 5.90. Toadfish - Daryl Thurlow, 1.29. Pogy-Menhaden, Eric Gabriell, 0.22.