Team M&M’s Melts in King’s Mouth/Wins Fort Pierce FLW Kingfish Tour

Team M&M's/Wild Ride, captained by Randy Griffin, Jr. of Hampstead, won the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour event at Fort Pierce, Fla and pocketed a cool $100,000 in prize winnings.

FORT PIERCE, Fla. – Team M&M’s/Wild Ride captained by Randy Griffin, Jr. of Hampstead, N.C., led a North Carolina sweep of the top five places at the Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour event presented by Evinrude in Fort Pierce, June 7 to 10, and pocketed $100,000 for their outstanding effort.

Their prize total included $40,000 in prize money, plus $30,000 contingency bonuses from Wellcraft Boats and Yamaha Outboards.

The winning catch included the 46-pound, 2-ounce king that got them into the top five and the final day of fishing and the 39-pound, 9-ounce king they caught on Sunday for their total weight of 82-pounds,11-ounces.  Those two big kings were worth just over $12,000 a pound to Griffin and the crew of Team M&M’s.

Team M&M’s competes on a 32-foot Wellcraft center console powered by twin Yamaha 300 HP outboards.  The crew consists of Griffin’s wife Shayna, plus Richard Williams and Ronnie Miller, both of Wilmington, N.C.

The third trip to the final day of fishing was the key for Griffin and crew.  They had made the top five and final day of fishing in two tournaments during 2006, but failed to capitalize on the opportunity.  This time they opened the door to the opportunity rather than just knocking on it.

Griffin said the southwest wind was creating a near-shore lee and keeping the seas calm near the beach.  He said they hugged the beach and ran to a spot north of Sebastian Inlet, where he had caught fish earlier in the week.

“We had caught fish right on the beach all week because the baitfish schools were in there,” Griffin said. “We were finding blue runners, greenbacks, false albacore and menhaden in the (shallow water), so we figured that would be the way to go.”

Setting out a spread of baits in 15 to 18 feet of water, Team M&M’s worked pods of baitfish and waited for the eventful strike.  Around 11 a.m., the winning kingfish hit a ribbonfish on a downrigger set three feet off the bottom. Miller grabbed the rod and fought the fish for about 30 minutes before bringing it to Griffin, who was waiting with the gaff.

“The fish made a slow run in front of the boat and then ran up on the beach and stayed in about five feet of water for a few minutes,” Griffin said. “Then she headed offshore and never looked back.

“When we first saw the fish, we didn’t think it was really big because of the angle we had. But then it rolled up and it looked huge. I stuck the fish; we got it in the boat, did a couple of high-fives and just fished around the area for the rest of the day.”

As many large kings had been caught in the previous two days of fishing, Griffin and crew were cautiously optimistic, but certainly made no assumptions they would be the winners.  After striking out in two previous final days, they were excited to have the fish in the boat and be in contention.

“We were pretty happy with our fish – it was respectable,” Griffin said. “I didn’t think we were going to win. I didn’t think the fish was big enough. (Several) teams weighed fish over 40 pounds on the first two days, so we figured we’d need a 40 to win.”
Team M&M’s caught five other kings later that day and all were released alive.  They said another of the kings would have also topped the 30-pound mark.

Griffin said his team’s success comes from a persistent and methodical approach to doing things that have produced for them in past tournaments.

“It takes a lot of patience to fish on the beach,” Griffin said. “You don’t go out and catch 20 fish. When you fish on the beach, you get one or two shots at big fish and if everything works in your favor, you have the chance for something really good to happen.”

Rounding out the top five teams were Team Miss Micki 2 captained by Ricky Rowland, of Fuquay-Varina, N.C. (80-pounds, 14-ounces, $32,620 including $9,000 contingency bonuses from Wellcraft and Yamaha); Team BP/Talkin Trash captained by Mike Edwards, of Wilmington, N.C. (69-pounds, 9-ounces, $19,100 including $5,250 contingency bonuses from Hydra-Sports and Yamaha); Team Bounty/Slip-N-Slide captained by Tom Aberle, of Wilmington, N.C. (63-pounds, 1-ounce, $15,380 including $4,250 contingency bonuses from Hydra-Sports and Yamaha); and Team House-Autry captained by Ronald Sutton, of Carolina Beach, N.C. (58-pounds, 12-ounces, $13,520 including $3,750 contingency bonuses from Hydra-Sports and Yamaha).

FLW Kingfish Tour tournaments are three-day events. The entire field competes Friday and Saturday, and the top five teams based on the heaviest kingfish from either day competing again on Sunday.

The $1.7 million Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour consists of four regular-season events. After four events are complete, the top 50 teams will compete in the three-day, no-entry-fee $500,000 Wal-Mart FLW Kingfish Tour Championship presented by BP in Biloxi, Miss., Nov. 2-4. The winning team at the championship could win up to $150,000.

The FLW Kingfish Tour will stop in Beaufort, SC., August 17-19 for its third regular-season event, presented by Yamaha Motors. The tour’s last qualifying event, presented by Raymarine, will be held in Atlantic Beach, NC, September 28-30.

For more information about the FLW Kingfish Tour, visit www.FLWOutdoors.com or call (270) 252-1000.

About Jerry Dilsaver 1172 Articles
Jerry Dilsaver of Oak Island, N.C., a full-time freelance writer, is a columnist for Carolina Sportsman. He is a former SKA National Champion and USAA Angler of the Year.

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