The Gulf Coast Kayak Fishing Association had originally planned for a inshore/offshore tournament on May 1oth. Due to unsafe water conditions, they rescheduled the offshore portion to June 28th. This is Keith Morrison, Matt Ritter and Kris Martinez‘s story on their trip to the winners circle.
It starts with the night before the tournament. Matt and Kris loaded up and went to Keith’s house for some pregaming and last chance gear inspections. A long night turned into an early morning and they were off to Waffle House for the breakfast of fishing champions. They then arrived at their launch site just as the sun was beginning to break the horizon. The plan was to try catching some bait for a bit before trolling 3 miles to their secret spot. The bait was scarce but they managed to get enough to share for the troll over. All three hooked up on the troll and landed a shark, a Bonita and 2 big Jack Crevalle.
Once they arrived at their spot, Kris and Matt decided to try sabiking up some more bait while they freelined hard tales. While they are catching bait, Keith lands a small 1.2lb spanish. Then, after a few minutes, Kris’s free line started slicing through the water. He managed to get his Sabiki out of the way, but the fish made a run under Matt’s yak and the sabiki got tangled with Kris’s line. Kris ensured he had a well set hook and then free lined while Matt attempted to untangle the lines. Kris knew he had a big fish on the other end and it all depended on Matt freeing up the line. A few short minutes later the line was free and Kris laid the hammer down. After a few runs he finally saw color and realized he had a smoker king. Matt paddled up next to him and landed a perfect gaff.
While Kris and Matt were playing with each others line, Keith also hooked up a big king. He had already lost one big fish that day and was determined to land this one. He read the runs correctly and kept a solid hook all the way to the gaff. He landed his just in time to look up and see Kris land his. They paddled up next to each other to see who had the biggest.
Now it was Matt’s turn. He threw out a cigcickle with a white duster and began to troll the area where Keith had just hooked up. Shortly after trolling, Matt gets a big run but had his drag a little loose and gets a bird’s nest and loses the fish. After a few minutes, he’s got it all cleaned up, tosses out another cig and turned around to make another lap. 5 mins later he gets SMASHED by a big fish. 150 yards of line gone in a few seconds! Matt begins to play the hardest game of tug of war of his life. After about 15-20 mins he gets the fish up next to his Trident and his stomach drops. Its a HUGE king. Matt’s hands begin to shake as he trying to figure out how to land this monster. Kris and Keith were a good distance away so it was up to Matt to land this fish. First gaff attempt was a miss. Matt manages to “shake off” the shakes and the next time around, he lands a perfect gaff and drops this 27.8lb monster into the Yak!
Now, all three guys had big kings on ice. They decided to troll for spanish on the way to a snapper spot but came up short for both. By the time they hit the beach they had just over an hour to make it to the weigh-ins. Of course, it was all the way across town and through all the tourist’s areas. At this point I remember seeing the count down clock hit 5 mins and I thought all the fish had been brought in. Then, with literally a minute to go, Kris, Matt and Keith come flying into the parking lot. They jumped out, grabbed their bags and ran to the weigh-in with 30 seconds on the clock. Keith took 4th in overall King but 1st in the offshore slam division with an aggregate of 18.7lbs which landed him a brand new Hobie Revo. Kris took 2nd in the king division with his 19.5lb king and Matt not only won first with his 27.8 Smoker but he also smashed the tournament record by 7.2lbs.
Not only did Keith, Kris and Matt all land smoker kings for the offshore GCKFA tournament but they blew away the competition and made a grand entrance in the final seconds of the weigh ins. Congrats guys!