Local pro fishing team Double J took home the top prize at the annual Captain Hap’s Kingfish Tournament in Darien.
At just over 48 pounds, their catch was declared by Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) officials as the biggest kingfish caught in the state division this year.
The team is made up of Richmond Hill’s Rusty Rogers and Scott Reynolds as well as Edenton residents Jerry Gregory and Billy Blunt. Rogers, the team captain, owns JR Rogers Construction, Reynolds owns WS Reynolds Construction, Gregory owns the team’s boat as well as Gregory Refrigeration and Blunt is retired from the furniture business.
The team had been out at sea for several hours before Gregory got a tug from the big one at 3 p.m. When they first got a bite from their winning fish, Rogers said the team thought they had caught a shark. Earlier that day, Reynolds had caught a 150 pound hammerhead shark, which they cut loose.
"It just didn’t run like a regular kingfish," Rogers said. "It made a short run and went to the bottom."
Usually, one man would lift a fish into the boat, but Rogers said, "Scott and I both grabbed hold of it to lift it over the side. We were all real nervous that we were going to let it loose."
"We knew right away we would place well," Rogers continued. "We guessed it was in the 40-45 pound range, so we were pleasantly surprised when they weighed it in at over 48. The next closest fish was 42 pounds."
Rogers said their catch is an unusual fish for the coast of Georgia. For example, Double J won last year’s Sapelo tournament with a 30 pound fish.
"Historically, a 30-35 fish will win this event," Rogers said. "This year, there were quite a few turned in that weighed in the 40’s. The kingfish just seem to be getting bigger here for some reason."
Before Double J reeled in their winning kingfish, Reynolds and Rogers decided to use the "live lining" method of baiting when they came over a school of bait-size fish by dropping blue runners on top of the bait fish. The fish hit Blunt’s rod before Gregory caught it.
Double J has high hopes to once again finish in the top 20 for Georgia, which would put them into the SKA National Championship tournament for their eighth consecutive year. They hit the waters again on Aug. 1 for the SKA Golden Isles Tournament in Jekyll Island.
Double J also fishes in the FLW division, which is televised nationally on FSN. They currently are ranked seventh place nationally in the FLW. Their next FLW event is Aug. 15 in Venice, Louisiana.
Rogers said the team has garnered enough prize money to finance all the team’s expenses.
"Fortunately, we’ve made enough to continue to do what we love," Rogers said. "We won about $30,000 last year. We’ll certainly top that for 2008 as we’ve already raked in $25,000 so far this year. We may not be the best team, but we’re definitely one of the top contenders."