· Who are the members of the Liquid Fire Fishing Team?
Our team consists of my sons, Joshua (22) and Crockett (17), my wife Audrey (47) and me (48). Periodically, we have some guest members; Rob Ferris and John Molfetto.
· How long have you fished together as the Liquid Fire Fishing Team?
When we moved to the coast of North Carolina in May 2002, it just fit. My children and all of the family members gravitated to the lure of the saltwater immediately. We spent a lot of time pier and surf fishing for the first two and a half years. Our children learned how to cast, tie knots, rig baits, clean fish, and all of the essentials while learning how to respect the resources that we’ve been given.
In 2004, a friend of mine, Ben Beasley, bought a 23-foot Sea Pro with a 200 Johnson. He asked us to fish the Raleigh Saltwater KMT with him. It was our first event, and I really don’t even remember if we got a strike. But, we were hooked!! We squeaked into the National Championship in Biloxi and ran to the West Delta both days in that boat!! Wow, what an event.
I purchased my first boat in October 2004. It was a 25’ Contender with twin Yamaha 200s, and we began fishing the SKA as the Liquid Fire Fishing Team in 2005. It’s been a really fun nine years!
· What type of Boat do you fish and why?
We have an Intrepid 375TE CC Open, powered by triple Yamaha 350s. After I sold my boat in September 2011, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ken Clinton, president of Intrepid, and Mark Beaver, COO, about the opportunity to fish one of their amazing boats. Intrepid was into their second year of sponsorship of the SKA, and I had done some research on the quality of the Intrepid product. Every piece of research that I did led to three things… QUALITY, QUALITY, QUALITY!!
Our family is extremely proud and appreciative of the opportunity we have been given to partner with Intrepid and the new 375 model. Ken and Mark had been working on the design for a while and asked us if we would like to be part of fishing and owning the very first 375 hull produced. The entire company has been a pleasure to work with. All of the employees take great pride in the products they produce, and it’s evident that attention to detail is a pride that is rampant throughout the company.
· What is your preferred engine manufacturer?
Ryan, we’ve been Yamaha owners from day one! We began with twin 200 Saltwater Series II’s and fished three years before repowering with twin 200 HPDIs. Once we sold our first boat, we powered our second with twin 350 Yamahas. There was no question about how we would power our new Intrepid. The triple Yamaha 350s are unbelievable on the boat. Their torque is a perfect match for the new Intrepid 375TE CC Open. There’s nothing like the combination of power, speed and reliability of a Yamaha product!
· What type of Rods and Reel do you use?
We use Accurate BX-600XL reels. These reels are manufactured by Accurate Fishing Products specifically for king mackerel and sailfish fishing. While they are powerful enough to bottom fish with, Accurate designed them to withstand mono compaction on the spool that can happen to any reel when using over 600 yards of monofilament.
Our rods are 7’6” American Rodsmiths Kingbreaker Ultras H3 Titanium, 15-30# with roller guides. These rods provide a little extra length when fighting a fish around the bow of our Intrepid. The Kingbreaker has a very fast tip coupled with unbelievable backbone strength. This rod allows us to fish menhaden or three-pound blue runners without having to change equipment when having to change tactics, depending on where we’re fishing.
Yo-Zuri Hybrid smoke purple or pink has been our choice of line for years!! The durability because of its lack of memory and resistance to water absorption and UV rays allows us to not have to worry about re-spooling every few tournaments. Unless we lose a fish that has “dumped” the spool due to getting cut off, we are able to spool our reels at the beginning of the season and fish with them though the season ending National Championship. Yo-Zuri Hybrid is an amazing product!
· Who are your sponsors?
We’ve got an unbelievable list of amazing companies that have chosen to partner with our family/team over the years. In 2013, our partners are:
Intrepid Powerboats, Yamaha Outboards, SIMRAD, Rigid Industries LED Lighting, Stevenson Automotive Group, Cannon/Minn Kota, Accurate, NBOA Marine Insurance, Yo-Zuri, Crystal Coast Graphics, Taco Metals, FUSION, American Rodsmiths, American Fishing Wire (AFW), Mate Series Combination Rod & Cup Holders, ICOM, OPTIMA Batteries, Salt Life Optics, Bimini-Bay Outfitters, Angler’s Envy Custom Rods, Blue Water Candy Lures, SPRO/Gamakatsu, Ocean-Tamer Marine Bean Bags, AmeraTrail Custom Trailers, Sportsman’s Toy Store, Sea Angler Gear, Sanderson Boatworks, and VMC.
All of these companies have been incredibly loyal to our family/team. They are THE BEST!!!
· What is your favorite fishing technique for kingfish?
Being from NC, our most used technique is slow trolling. We really need to get better at kite fishing. So many teams from Florida have really perfected this method and are blasting huge kingfish!!
· What is your favorite Bait of choice and why?
That really depends on the area in which we’re fishing. But, our largest fish have been caught on big blue runners. We try really hard to have a variety of bait, no matter what area we’re fishing. I think it’s important to have a selection to present when fishing. You never know what that one big mama will want!
· Where is your favorite place to fish around the country?
I’m not sure that’s a question I can answer with complete confidence. We’ve been extremely fortunate to be able to have traveled to some great venues. But, in terms of sheer fishing enjoyment, it’s really hard to beat Fourchon, LA. The different numbers of species of fish the area offers is unbelievable. We found out quickly when fishing there, you need to take a freezer and vacuum sealer!!
Key West provides some of the most accessible fishing there is. We were chumming for and catching Yellowtail, Lane and Mutton snapper one mile out of the pass in January this year (2013), and while we were doing that, a 31-pound kingfish ate a free-lined, balloon rig bait in 15 feet of water… WOW!!
Ft. Pierce/Jensen Beach is always an area we try to visit each year. There has always been an allure to this area for us. The combination of fishing and some of our favorite restaurants of all time makes it fun for us to visit. If you haven’t, you must visit Crawdaddy’s Restaurant in Jensen Beach (the Crawfish Jambalaya is to die for), Papa Louie’s in Port St. Lucie and Allen’s Diner in Ft. Pierce. And, these are only a few. Trust me; a fat boy like me knows where the good vittles are!!
· What's your favorite tournament and why?
We respect ALL tournament directors for their dedication to the events they produce for us! My hat’s off to them. Directing/promoting an event is hard work, and often times, thankless. However, of the tournaments we’ve fished throughout the southeast, NBOA Marine Insurance does one of the finest jobs taking care of the teams and fishermen at the Gulf Coast Open. They are committed to helping our sport maintain stability and provide growth. The NBOA staff works diligently to provide an event that is full of camaraderie, fun and excitement.
· Tell us about your most memorable tournament day?
There have been some amazing memories that my family and I share frequently over dinner. Our win at the 2008 Jensen Beach pro event is obviously pretty special, and being able to win the 2008 SKA Yamaha Professional Kingfish Tour Angler of the Year title is our most memorable accomplishment.
Probably our most unforgettable week is when we took possession of our Intrepid 375TE CC Open and were fortunate enough to win the 2012 NBOA Gulf Coast Open. It was the first SKA tournament the boat ever fished, and several of our sponsors were at the weigh-in. Including Mark Beaver, COO of Intrepid, many of the Intrepid employees, NBOA staff and Frank Abruzzino with Ocean-Tamer. Our family was proud to be able to represent three of our and the SKA sponsors, Intrepid, NBOA Marine Insurance and Ocean-Tamer in this way.
However, our most memorable day is probably the old Wrightsville Beach KMT in 2006. It may be the one, single day that my sons and I have talked about most over the years… and, it wasn’t a fish we caught… IT WAS THE ONE WE LOST!! I know, I know… the one that got away. But since you asked, I’ll share quickly…
We were fishing on the East Side of the Cape Lookout Shoals and had caught several fish between 25-28 pounds. It had already been a good day of catching, but we were also a little “snake bit” with a few bite offs of what we knew were bigger fish. Therefore, while we had some nice fish, we were all extremely frustrated. About mid-day, I was putting out a large bluefish when after about the fifth pull I heard Crockett, who was watching from his knees on the leaning post, say, “oh, my goodness!!” I quickly turned and caught a glimpse of what I thought was a BIG shark and jerked the bait away as the fish made her lunge to eat.
Crockett screamed, “NOOOOO!!!” As I pulled the bluefish away, I quickly saw why Crockett was so elevated, and I quickly free-lined the bait as BIG MAMA got ticked off because she missed the first time. She swirled to come back and attack the monster blue!! It looked like a five-gallon bucket as she opened her jaws to inhale her lunch. She immediately sounded and never ran more than 25 yards. Forty-five minutes later, as Joshua was finally making headway on getting her to the surface, what we think was a school of Amberjacks swam through and parted our leader!! Talk about a really bad day… I’m not going to even say how big I truly think the fish was.
It’s just a fish story to everyone else, but to us, it’s probably our most memorable, disappointing and talked about day in our family. While I won’t say how big I think she was, I’ve got a really good guess… J
· What changes would you like to see in the sport and where would you like to see it headed?
Stability and steady growth back to the “glory” days is where I think we would all like to see the sport we love return. In my opinion, it’s important that we all work hard to promote the sport individually and professionally; not only to the fishing community, but to those outside the industry. I would love to see more “outside” the industry sponsorship dollars grow for the SKA and those organizations promoting events. The marine industry has been bombarded over the last several years. It would be fantastic to see involvement from outside the industry to help stabilize prize structure and marketing in the sport.
It would make me really proud to see growth in the Junior Angler divisions. Joshua and Crockett basically grew up in the sport. It has meant a lot to Audrey and me for us to be so involved with them in something that everyone is able to participate. The SKA has been really good for our family, and we’ve met some great friends.
· Where would you like to fish that you have not been?
There are several places that we haven’t been able to fish yet. While we’ve fished the Northern Gulf (Biloxi and Fourchon) many times, we’ve heard many good things about Venice and how well the Butlers take care of those fishing their events. We would also like to visit the Ft. Myers/Naples area. I keep hearing the fishing can be amazing there as well. Finally, we’ve driven past the Jacksonville, FL, area way too many times not to have spent some time there. I’ve got a lot of friends who live in the area, and we would really like to support some of the events there as well.