The Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament kicked off Monday, July 15 with Junior Tournament registration, and hundreds of teams entered in the general tournament headed out this morning in search of a “smoker” king mackerel. There are two ways to win grand prizes — first place for largest fish is a boat, motor, trailer package, and first place two-fish aggregate is $10,000 cash. Getting a big fish to the scales on the first day of fishing takes a bit of the pressure for day two. Even teams with big a fish on Thursday face the challenge of going out on Friday to find another big king to add to their aggregate or to hold a top spot in the largest fish category.
On Tuesday, junior angler Shane Cannady on the boat named Ruff’n It weighed an impressive 54.85-pound kingfish to win the Junior Angler title. Second and third place fish were 46.58 and 40.85 respectively. The general tournament should see some big fish this year.
In 2018, Team Fountain won the largest fish category with a 46.5-pound king weighed in just before lightning closed the scales. If the results of the Ancient City Game Fish Association’s Kingfish Challenge in late June are an indicator, it’s going to take a 50-pounder to take the top spot. King’s Full had a 52.47 and a 46.54 to win the aggregate prize with a total of 99.28 pounds. Another 50 — 53.38 to be exact —was weighed by Salt Therapy, who ended up in fourth place with a 71.16 aggregate.
There were three 40-pounders and 20 kings in the 30-pound range caught in the Kingfish Challenge. Ocean conditions are forecast to be better for the Greater Jax than they were for the Challenge. Thursday and Friday seas should be 2 to 3 feet off Jacksonville with winds at 10-15 knots. Thursday night there is a slight chance of showers and Friday a slight chance for thunderstorms. With good weather, expect big fish at the scales.
Team Fountain’s Clayton Kirby has five aggregate titles under his belt at the Greater Jax, and won the Southern Kingfish Association's National Championship in 2014. A back-to-back win is rare, but if Team Fountain is on the water, they’re definitely a team to watch.
Weigh-in is open to the public at Jim King Park and Boat Ramp at Sisters Creek beginning at 3 p.m. both days. The site opens at 2 p.m. with activities including the Food Festival, Liars' Tent, live entertainment, exhibitors, boats on display and shopping at the Boatique. For more information, visit www.kingfishtournament.com.
Future kingfish tournament champions
Junior anglers are the future of the sport and Ponte Vedra residents Keith and Katherine Wilson include their kids in tournament kingfishing. Both children attend Ponte Vedra Christian Co-op — Keith is a sixth-grader and Savanna is going into third grade.
“I got sixth place in the Kingbuster out of 187,” Savanna said. “I won a kayak.”
Her brother, Keith, is the third-place winner of record of the Ancient City Game Fish Association’s Kingfish Challenge junior tournament. But the siblings share credit for the 29.55-pound king mackerel that put them on the leaderboard.
The family fishes on a boat they named Hakuna Matata. Sometimes work schedules don’t mesh with tournament schedules. They fished the Kingbuster and Kingfish Challenge, but work obligations kept the team off the water for Greater Jax. That’s OK. Keith and Savanna have a few more years to hone their skills before we look for them at the top of general tournament leaderboards.