An angler’s first offshore fishing trip is often something they’ll never forget – especially if they land a 66-pound king mackerel. That’s exactly what happened to Kathryn McClure while being guided by Cory Swink aboard the Hawg Hunter. They trolled a stretch of live bottom about 20 miles off of Holden Beach on July 23 to produce the incredible catch, which measured 63 inches long with a girth of 28.5 inches.
After hearing reports of a hot mahi bite, Swink and McClure, both of Albemarle, headed to a spot in 80 feet of water to prospect for them or whatever else was in the area. After arriving, they began deploying their trolling spread, which utilized Star rods and Shimano Trinidad 30 reels. Each reel was spooled with a 20 pound Yo-Zuri hybrid mainline and a 3-foot single strand wire leader pulling a pair of #4 treble hooks that pierced a skirted ballyhoo.
Swink’s intent was to troll a spread with four lines on top and two pulled by downriggers at approximately 4 miles per hour, but it only took about 20 minutes for the action to commence, and the first line was the only one to get wet.
“The first line we put out was the longline,” said Swink. “We started putting the second rod out when the first one went off; It started screaming. I got the rod out of the T-top and handed it to Kathryn. She took it from there.”
Combining the king’s weight with its blistering runs, McClure began to tire and requested assistance amidst the 20-minute fight. Rather than providing relief, Swink offered encouragement.
“She kept telling me that I was going to have to take the rod,” said Swink. I said ‘you’ve got to fight it from the start to the end; you can’t give up.’ She was tired, but she hung in there.
“When she finally got it to the side of the boat, I realized how big it was. I tried to gaff it with the first gaff and it broke off in the fish. I grabbed the second gaff and finally got it in the boat. We put it in the fish box and got it on ice, but I didn't realize it was anywhere near 66 pounds.”
After a few more hours of trolling, the pair managed several of the aforementioned mahi and a few more king mackerel before bumpy seas forced them back to shore and to Ocean Isle Fishing Center where the trophy was weighed and measurements were taken.