Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Heavy Duty on Kingfish Scales Monster Catches Highlight Tourney

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Heavy Duty on Kingfish Scales Monster Catches Highlight Tourney

Article excerpt

When they finally pulled the plug on the weigh-in scale at Pablo

Creek Marina last night, it needed the rest.

Four and a half hours earlier, at 3 p.m., the first kingfish

had come in, a 38-pounder. That was followed in bang-bang-bang

fashion by a 40-pounder, a 42, a 43, and you knew right then that

the 17th version of the Nissan Kingfish Tournament was going to

be something special.

It was yesterday, both in terms of number of fish and size.

There were seven kings caught in the 40's, 26 in the 30's. Of

the 848 boats that checked out in the morning, 361 weighed fish.

"The largest number [weighing fish] I ever remember off the top

of my head is 270," said long-time tournament biologist Quinton

White. "The percentage of boats weighing in fish is real high."

The biggest of them all yesterday belonged to the Tuck's Tug

boat from Jacksonville. Capt. Jack Conard and crew David

Rinderer and Ryan Belshan weighed in a 49.10-pound kingfish to

take the first-day lead in the two-day tourhnament. The jumbo

king was the largest recorded in the tournament since 1991.

The leaders didn't hide their emotions. The owner of the Tuck's

Tug, Jacksonville's Larry Tucker, is in Shands Hospital in

Gainesville following a bone marrow transplant. Tucker, 43, was

diagnosed in 1991 with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and is undergoing

experimental treatment.

"They gave him two months to live, so we have nothing to lose,"

said Tucker's wife Kimberly. "That man has been through hell and

back. He's 6 feet tall and weighs 120 pounds. This [leading

kingfish] has got to be for him. He deserves it."

"Larry was so happy -- I think he was in tears," said Rinderer,

who called Tucker at the hospital via phone from the boat.

Rinderer said the big king hit a live pogy about 1:45 p.m.

while the Tuck's Tug was trolling north of Mayport about a mile

off the beach. "We didn't have but one bite all day -- this is

it," Rinderer said. "We hope it will hold up. We'll definitely

fish [today]."

Yesterday's second-heaviest king, a 46. …

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