Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

52-Pounder Is on Money; Big Thursday Catch Holds Up as Beer Money Crew Wins Tournament

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

52-Pounder Is on Money; Big Thursday Catch Holds Up as Beer Money Crew Wins Tournament

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID JOHNSON

The fourth biggest kingfish in tournament history was on ice.

But Capt. Chris Stephens and the Beer Money crew waited nervously for the end of the weigh-in Friday at Sisters Creek Marina. Their 52.35-pound kingfish caught on Thursday held up easily, winning the top prize in the 26th annual BellSouth Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament.

"I never thought I'd get here on my boat," Stephens said of winning the world's biggest kingfish tournament. "This is the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500 and the World Cup final. This is the big one."

Stephens' crew - Chris Smolder, Jerry Richardson, Clay Russell and Joey Kaylor - weighed in an 18.50-pound king mackerel for insurance in the aggregate standings. It didn't matter. Nobody else could come anywhere close to Stephens' 52-pounder, which won a 25-foot Contender Open and twin Yamaha 200 engines valued at an estimated $116,644.

The second biggest fish weighed in the tournament was the first brought in Thursday. Capt. Robert Holmquist paired that 45.65-pound mackerel with a 22.40-pounder Friday to post an aggregate total of 68.05.

Each boat is only eligible for one prize, so Stephens' 70.85-pound total couldn't win the aggregate prize. Instead, Holmquist claimed the Sea Chaser 250LX Bay Runner by Carolina Skiff.

"Yesterday, we got a little lucky," Holmquist said of hitting the 45-pounder on the first bait of the day. But he said they fished pretty hard Friday, beating their way through a storm and 3-foot seas.

After six kingfish heavier than 40 pounds weighed Thursday, anglers only brought in two of that size Friday. The drop was even more dramatic in fish heavier than 30 pounds from 53 on Day 1 to 24 on Friday.

Capt. Earl Renshaw brought in the second day's biggest fish at 40.45 pounds to help capture second place in the aggregate standings with 65. …

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