44th Annual U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament gives nearly 300k prize money

SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) – Fishing competitors got their reels and boats ready over the weekend for one of the largest king mackerel tournaments on the East Coast.

The public was invited to Dutchman Creek Park in Southport for the 44th Annual U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament which was postponed last weekend due to the weather conditions brought on by Ian.

Despite the delay fishermen from both North Carolina and South Carolina, and as far as New York entered the competition.

According to organizers,  358 boats were on the water Saturday,  with ‘Tailgrabber’, owned by Mike Hayes named the top winner.

Hayes reeled in a more than 42-pound mackerel, and not only took home bragging rights but also a more than $51,000 check.

“It feels fantastic, I’ve fished this tournament a lot of years, this is the first time I ever won,” said Hayes. “It took us approximately about 20 minutes or so to get it in the boat, but once we did it was jubilation.”

The team on the boat ‘Sabrina Marie’ didn’t receive a big check but that didn’t stop the crew from being in good spirits.

“We got 8th this year, last year we got 90th, we’re climbing in the ranks,” said Jerry Britt.

According to organizers, the total prize money given out for the tournament was just shy of $300,00.

Results from the 2022 tournament can be found here.

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