Team OIFC’s tackle includes 7-foot conventional live-bait rods with fast tips. The lighter tip telegraphs the action of the bait and also acts as a shock absorber during the blistering runs of a big king. Reels are spooled with 20-pound-test monofilament line tipped with 25-pound fluorocarbon leaders tied to the wire rigs.
“Never use braid with treble hooks,” McMullan explains. “You’ve got to have the stretch and shock absorption of mono to stay tight to a big fish.”
When a big mackerel strikes, McMullan is a firm believer in leaving the other lines in the water while that fight is underway. The remaining anglers should be ready to react to additional strikes while the driver keeps trolling into the school of fish.
“We always catch bigger fish while fighting one,” he says. “The more baits you have in the water, the more chances you get.”
McMullan says anglers often get too excited and tighten the reel drag when a big fish is taking line. That’s a mistake. Instead, he loosens the drag slightly as the fish gets farther from the boat. Once it stops and he begins to gain line, he incrementally tightens the drag.
“With a bunch of line out and too much drag pressure, something bad is bound to happen. That fish will stop eventually, so go light on the tension.”
With tougher conditions in the Carolinas, McMullan feels that gives him a competitive edge, since he has to make the most of limited opportunities. Every team member knows his role and fishes with confidence, rarely losing a fish.
“You don’t win tournaments with fish stories about the big ones that got away,” he says. “You win by putting them in the boat when you have the chance. And you do that with teamwork and fast, efficient angling skills.”