UPCOMING EVENT: TOYOTA SERIES - 2020 - Lake Dardanelle

Who’s your Daddy?

Who’s your Daddy?
Team Cat Daddy – (l to r) Steve Shook, Capt. Dan Mathis, Bob Clement and Rusty Mathis – brought in this massive kingfish weighing 56 pounds, 5 ounces to win the first-ever Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish tournament, held in Fort Pierce.

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - If you're a pro kingfish angler, there was no doubt who your daddy was Saturday afternoon in Fort Pierce. Team Cat Daddy brought in a massive kingfish weighing 56 pounds, 5 ounces to win the first-ever Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish tournament and its $100,000 first-place prize.

The wily veterans, captained by Danny Mathis of Gonzales, La., overcame considerable obstacles en route to the big win. In the face of rough weather in the morning and a 50-pound shot across their bow by Team Hannon's Cannon later in the day, Cat Daddy ultimately triumphed by spanking the teenage captain who set the bar so high on day one.

Hilton Head, South Carolina's Dan Gourley, the 17-year-old phenom whose Team Captain Dan established the mark to beat Friday with a 51-pound, 14-ounce king, could only stand and watch as Cat Daddy beat his weight by 4 1/2 pounds.

"We're really happy with the fish we caught yesterday," said the young pro. "Whatever happens, happens. There's nothing we can do about it now."

What happened Saturday was the weather: It got downright nasty in the morning. High winds and a rain squall battered anglers as they fought to find fish at sea. Many competitors who fished offshore Friday decided to move further inshore to avoid the heavy swells Saturday.

While the weather let up and the sun came out in the afternoon - ultimately proving to be even more favorable than day one - another factor pushing boats toward the beach was the predominance of leading fish coming from inshore waters on day one, like Captain Dan's.

One of those boats gravitating towards land was the Cat Daddy. After plowing their way through rough water down to the Lake Worth inlet roughly 10 miles south of Jupiter, Mathis and crew set up camp about a mile offshore and started dropping lines. The captain gave credit to an "anonymous fisherman" for the tip on the location.

"We pre-fished there and caught a good fish, and we were fortunate enough to get a 35-pounder there yesterday," Mathis said. "We saw no reason to change. We felt we could get another good fish."

Team Cat Daddy pose victorious with the winning king.The Louisiana crew - consisting of Capt. Mathis, Bob Clement of Mobile, Guy Koontz of Baton Rouge, Rusty Mathis of Amite and Steve Shook of Golden Meadow - were working drop-offs in about 70 feet of water when the big one hit on a hardtail bait about 45 minutes after they started fishing.

"It took about 860 feet of line on the initial run, then it charged me," said Capt. Mathis, who reeled it in. "Then Clement (who was driving the boat) slammed it into reverse and we were reeling and praying and sweating as fast as humanly possible."

"This old momma made a wrong turn when she hit," Shook said. "She ran straight for the beach."

A nerve-wracking half-hour later, Cat Daddy had their tournament winner in the boat.

"The fish pretty much ran on top," Capt. Mathis said. "We were able to see it probably 20 minutes into the fight and we knew it was a good fish, so we were nervous wrecks. Our knees were knocking and our hearts were pumping and, wouldn't you believe it, it was all on camera."

Based on its top-five performance on day one, Cat Daddy was filmed for the "FLW Outdoors" television show Saturday.

Shook, who gaffed the fish said: "I don't ever gaff underwater, but when I saw her I said, `Dear Lord!' and dropped it down in there so she wouldn't get away. And, thank God, I was able to pull her out."

When all was said and done, an enthusiastic Team Cat Daddy hoisted the winners' trophies. In addition to the $40,000 guaranteed top prize, they also claimed both the $30,000 Genmar contingency and $30,000 Yamaha contingency awards, collecting a grand total of $100,000.

"The joy of this is indescribable; there's no comparison," Capt. Mathis said. "We've been fishing the SKA (Southern Kingfish Association) for years and we've enjoyed it immensely. We all feel fortunate just to win a tournament. But we kingfishermen have been just begging for something like this where we're not fishing mostly for our own money. We're so appreciative of what FLW is doing for all of us fishermen. This was a great event."

Captain Dan rides it out

Team Captain Dan didn't get a whole lot of fishing in Saturday, partly because of their strong lead and mainly because of the adverse weather in the morning.

"We went out and fished for a couple of hours, messed around, basically," Gourley said. "Then we came back in when that storm hit."

Captain Dan collected $18,400 for second place.

Team Hannon's Cannon finished third by catching the only other fish over 50 pounds. Crewmember Steve Rowley shows off their 50-pound, 9-ounce king.Hannon's Cannon shoots into third

Team Hannon's Cannon, captained by Kevin Hannon of Seminole, Fla., finished third by catching the only other fish over 50 pounds. Their catch Saturday weighed 50-9 and earned them $16,150.

"We hit a tide line and that's when we caught the squall," said crewmember Steve Rowley, who indicated that they also ran toward the Lake Worth inlet. "When that blew through there were about 40- to 50-mph winds. After the rain we went back into the beach and ran down south."

The team's fish, caught on a blue runner, almost didn't make it into the boat.

"We got it on one swing with the gaff, but we were really close to losing that fish," Rowley said. "The main hook was pulled out and all that remained was the stinger. All I had to do to get it out was just pull the wire (leader). I didn't even use the pliers, so we got lucky."

Off Shore Authority fourth

Team Off Shore Authority, captained by David Kingery of Melbourne, Fla., also stayed close to land and grabbed the fourth spot with a 42-pound, 13-ounce king caught Saturday. They earned $12,650.

"It just would have been so rough offshore, and there was a lot of decent fishing inshore yesterday," said Kingery, whose team also landed a nice, 32-pound, 15-ounce king Friday. "We had an advantage because we had a good fish yesterday, so we could gamble a little bit."

Predator fifth

Finishing in the fifth spot and claiming $14,900 was Team Predator with a 41-pound, 3-ounce fish caught Saturday.

They, too, fished inshore waters on day two.

"Had we been way offshore, it would have been pretty nasty," said Capt. Jack Wood of Wake Forest, N.C. "We would have taken a pretty good beating."

Team King of Kings caught this 38-14 fish, weighed in by crewmember Curt Hennessey, and finished seventh.Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 team finishers at the Fort Pierce FLW Kingfish:

6th: Delph Fishing, Capt. Billy Delph of Key West, Fla., 40-10, $6,400
7th: King of Kings, Capt. Gary Wetherington of Bluffton, S.C., 38-14, $8,150
8th: Hammersdown, Capt. Don Wright of Myrtle Beach, S.C., 37-2, $6,650
9th: No Doubt, Capt. Trae Ross of Oxford, Ga., 36-12, $3,300
10th: Young Guns, Capt. Harvey Way Jr. of Bunnell, Fla., 34-12, $5,800

Coming up

The next Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour event is the second tournament of the year and is scheduled for Venice, La., June 10-11.

Tags: jeff-schroeder  headline-story  2005-04-01-fort-pierce 

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