Deciding to make lemonade out of lemons, two local Southern Kingfish Association angling teams joined forces at the beginning of summer and now are headed to the national championship tournament in Biloxi, Miss.
As the 2011 kingfish season approached, team Meant2B captain Jack Barnett and his wife, Melissa, both of Brunswick, realized the maintenance on their 2009 Donzi would not be complete in time for the beginning of the summer competition series.
In Fleming, team Moe Money captain Joe Gill was taking time away from angling to get married, leaving teammates Jay Gill and his father, Moe, without a vessel driver for the season.
But the local anglers came to an agreement: Team Moe Money temporarily would merge with team Meant2B, allowing them to fish on Moe Money’s vessel, a 2010 Onslow Bay, with team Meant2B providing a captain and first mate, Joe and Jack Gill, to run the boat. Jay Gill and Melissa Barnett would be the anglers.
The newly merged Meant2B team set out for its first tournament, the 25th annual Two Way Sport-fishing Club’s Kingfish Tournament in Brunswick on June 24-25. After a full day of fishing, the Meant2B team placed second in Division 4 with a catch weighing in at 25.96 pounds.
Off to a good start, the team competed in the St. Mary’s Saltwater Classic on July 7-9 and placed second overall and first in the open-class division with a 40.47-pound catch.
In tournament three, the team competed in Darien in the Captain Hap’s Kingfish Bash on the Bluff on July 22-23. Although they were unable to land a kingfish, the crew did haul in a mahi that gave them first place in that class.
Knowing the competition would get stronger, the team brought in the assistance of Tony Patronis of Shellman Bluff.
With his help, the team had more men working the poles at the Sapelo Open King Mackerel Tournament on July 29-30.
But the team failed to land a weighable fish. That meant team Meant2B still was clinging to its first-place division title going into tournament five, the Golden Isles Kingfish Classic on Aug. 11-13.
On day one, the teammates weighed in a 13-pound fish but knew they needed a minimum 20- to 25-pound fish to seal the division. They reworked their gang plan and headed back out on day two.
Joe Gill threw out the cast net and caught their bait. The crew kept busy baiting the lines where they received bite after bite. Around 9:30 a.m., Melissa Barnett reeled in a large catch and the crew anxiously waited the official weigh in. Their catch weighed in at 26.4 pounds, earning the team ninth place overall and first place for Barnett in the lady-angler category of Division 4.
With the catch, the team accumulated enough points to win the open-class Division 4 title and Barnett the top lady angler in the division.
The prize also earned the team a bid for the national championship coming up Nov. 7-13 in Biloxi, Miss.
Team Meant2B also received an invitation from the Yamaha Professional Tour for the 2012 season.