With money like that on the line, the FLW Kingfish Series stop in Southport will be one of the richest regional kingfish tournaments in the state. Tack on Hydra-Sports, Wellcraft, Yamaha and Evinrude bonuses totaling $18,000, and the winner's take could be as much as $30,000 cash – a sum that ranks the tournament as one of the most lucrative regional kingfish events in the nation.
It's not too late to get in on the action. Openings are still available in the tournament, which has a $500 entry fee. Teams may register online at FLWOutdoors.com or by calling (270) 252-1000. Entries will also be accepted during on-site registration from 4 to 6 p.m. July 14 at the Wal-Mart store located at 1675 N. Howe St. in Southport. The field, however, is capped at a maximum of 100 boats.
"Fishing has been a little slow so far this spring," said Team Berkley-Tideline Captain Dieter Cardwell of Winston-Salem, N.C. "There are a bunch of 12- to 15-pound fish offshore, but the big bite inshore has been slow."
Cardwell, who led his team to a third-place finish in the South Carolina-Georgia Division tournament in Beaufort, S.C., June 24, said there are a lot of fish to be caught, but going after the big bite may be risky.
"If someone sits in the river channel all day, they could get a 42-pound fish. Or they could zero," he said. "If you're fishing for the championship, it would be risky to fish close to shore. The best bet would be to run 15 miles out or so and catch a bunch of fish and hope to upgrade through sheer numbers."
The majority of teams will fish pogies and ribbonfish, both shallow and deep, Cardwell said.
Aside from cash, teams competing in Southport will be vying for valuable points that could earn them a trip to the no-entry-fee, $300,000 FLW Kingfish Series Championship in Orange Beach, Ala., Oct. 26-28, which will be televised nationwide as part of "FLW Outdoors" on FSN (Fox Sports Net). This broadcast will reach approximately 80 million households in the United States plus 350 million households in such countries as Germany, China, South Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Russia, Hungary and the United Kingdom, making "FLW Outdoors" the most widely distributed weekly outdoor-sports television show in the world. Additionally, FLW Outdoors is proud to provide tournament coverage to more than 800,000 servicemembers stationed around the world in 177 countries and aboard Navy ships through broadcasts on the American Forces Network. "FLW Outdoors" airs Sundays at 11 a.m. Eastern time.
Teams will take off from the South Harbor Village Marina located at 4909 Fish Factory Road in Southport at 6:15 Saturday morning, July 15. The scales open at 3 p.m. and teams must check-in by 5 p.m. The morning start and weigh-in are free and open to the public.
One hundred and fifty points are awarded to the winning team in each tournament, 149 points for second, 148 points for third, and so on. The top 20 teams from each division will advance to the FLW Kingfish Series Championship. Additionally, the points champion from each division will receive a full year of free entries into the division of their choice for the 2007 FLW Kingfish Series. The top five teams from each division also qualify for the 2007 Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour, where they can compete for a share of $330,000 in every qualifier.
The Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce is hosting the event. For more information, visit their web site at www.southport-oakisland.com.
The next North Carolina Division tournament will be held Aug. 19 in Southport followed by the final regular-season tournament in Atlantic Beach, N.C. Every qualifying event will feature a $100,000 purse based on a full field of 100 boats.
For more information on the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Series, visit www.flwoutdoors.com.