BILOXI, MS – The Southern Kingfish Association (SKA) wrapped up the Mercury Marine Professional Tour with a Championship event held at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino October 1-3, 2015, crowning a new Angler of the Year. This prestigious title is awarded after a long fought fishing battle that began in Key West in January. Despite the cold, storms, hundreds of thousands of miles driven both on land and sea, a victor has emerged!
The world’s largest saltwater tournament trail brought back the most competitive, head-to-head kingfish tournament fishing, drawing teams from Alabama to North Carolina to South Florida. Each team competed in four fixed events – two in Florida, one in South Carolina and one in North Carolina, all culminating with the final Championship in the arduous waters of the Northern Gulf.
Not only did we crown Championship tournament winners, we also crowned the coveted “Angler of the Year” title, along with the top overall teams for the Mercury Professional Tour! Due to some inclement weather, anglers fished one day for two fish.
Having been consistent all year, Palace Saloon, fishing on a Mercury powered Yellowfin, came in fourth place for the tournament, catching an aggregate of 66.08. Fishing on an Invicible powered by quad Mercury Verados, Team Lil Devil.com came in third with an aggregate of 71.35. Young Guns, another Mercury team, pulled in a 38.00 and a 34.52 on their 39’ Contender, putting them in second place!
Rounding out the day, with a 32.18 and a 42.43 was St. Pete Team Promarine, captained by Jim Naset who also won Senior Angler of the Year! Jim said, “We made a pretty long run out west which really limited our time to fish and with 2 fish same day we knew it would be a hero or zero chance. Made a quick stop for bait and went to our spot arriving just under 4 hours after check out. First baits out we had our 42 and went looking for a second fish at nearby rigs. With about 30 minutes until we needed to head back we landed the 32 and headed back. Not really thinking these two fish might win it we were very surprised to see the leader board. Thanks to the SKA, Mercury Marine, Yellowfin, Uflex, Dogfish Tackle, Olukai, Fisherman’s Ideal Supply, Simrad and ProMarine.”
After a long fought battle stretching from North Carolina, to the Keys, culminating to the apex in Biloxi, MS, twenty-six professional teams went head to head to see who the best of the best was! Hailing from Charleston, Team Tortteaser, on a 32’ Yellowfin powered by Mercury, came in third place overall, just barely being beaten by Young Guns, who fish a Mercury powered Contender. Young Guns also took home the Junior Angler of the Year award that went to Hunter Irvine. New Pro Team, Don Ray Gear, on a Mercury powered Yellowfin were crowned Angler of the Year as they held their Stanley-cup like trophy over their heads, spraying champagne on the crowd.
Captain of the team, Zach Railey said, “We had a great year for our team and would like to thank all our sponsors Don Ray Gear, Bucket Innovations, Yellowfin, Mercury, Simrad, and Wet Sounds. We would also like to thank the SKA and all the sponsors that made the Pro Tour possible. Finally, thank you to all the other teams as it doesn’t happen without the participation of the teams and their commitment. We are thrilled to have won team of the year and our biggest success was putting a plan together for each location and sticking to our guns trying to always ‘be on the board.’ We have a great team and each member brings skills that make the team successful. We are looking forward to next year!!”
Without our dedicated partners, the Mercury Professional Kingfish tour would not have been a success. We are grateful for our partners, Mercury Marine, NBOA Marine Insurance, Contender Boats, Garmin and Falvey Yachts who have supported us during our first tour!
Founded in 1991, the Southern Kingfish Association is the largest saltwater fishing tournament trail in the world. With thousands of members across the Southeast, the SKA’s purpose is to promote and responsibly grow the family sport of fishing. They are passionately committed to fostering rewarding experiences amongst King Mackerel anglers, tournament directors and their industry partners. Visit fishska.com for more details.
Erin Henshaw, Director of Communications
4404 N. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34234