In the Cape Fear area, slowtrolling live bait for king mackerel evolved from float fishing in the late '70's. During the winter of 1979, a small group of tournament winning live-baiters from Carolina and Kure Beach would gather at Missy's Messy Market to drink a beer and trade tall tales. (Missy's was a dockside hangout on Canal Drive where the Scotchman is today). That winter, an idea was spawned to create a fishing club unlike any other. The idea was to found a club on the basis of live bait catches only. For a couple of fishing seasons prior to that winter, this group of competitive friends would announce hook-ups with a spirited cry of "got im on" over their CB radios. Thus the club name was born. We officially formed in 1980 and incorporated in 1981. The club has grown from 17 members at the first meeting to approximately 300 family memberships in recent years.
In our early days, the fever was all about King Mackerel. Members of this club created and perfected techniques in live baiting that were very successful in tournament fishing. Got-Em-On'ers have won all the major established king tournaments including: the "Arthur Smith", the Jacksonville open (the first year was dominated by club members), Atlantic Beach, the "Classic", Wrightsville, Topsail, the SunFun, the U.S. Open, and many of the newer tournaments. We have finished in the top three in countless tournaments up and down the east coast and even a few on the gulf coast over the past 23 years: and we ain't bad at catching other species. One look at our club records will tell you this crew knows how to fish. Although we still have a small competitive group of King fisherman that can hold their own in tournaments, the club's attention has shifted to flounder fishing. It's not unusual for an 11 or 12 pounder to win the club plaques, or fish 6-10 pounds to win our Intra-club tournaments. We have set up a points system that has added excitement and enthusiasm back to these tournaments
We are a not for profit organization that sponsors community service events and fundraisers to make donations to various charities. We have supported and made donations to: the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, Carolina Beach School, UNCW, Federal Point Historic Preservation Society, the Fort Fisher Aquarium, Habitat for Humanity, Carolina Beach Police and Fire Departments, the Senior Center, Dixie Youth Baseball, the Carolina Beach Parks and Recreation Department, The N.C. Coastwatch, CCA-NC, needy Island children, and artificial reef projects. Our service projects and fundraisers include:
1) The East Coast Got-Em-On Classic King Mackerel Tournament - This is our oldest and biggest fundraiser. It was actually formed from the combination of two separate tournaments. The first was the East Coast Open, with a grueling three day format, held each May starting in 1980 (66 boats entered the first one): it was hosted by the Carolina Beach and Kure Beach Fire Departments. The second, The Got-Em-On Classic hosted by the club and held every July since 1981,was the first King Tournament to have a Lady Angler prize and a bidding Calcutta (TWT). Due to the increase in entries, the last bidding Calcutta was in 1983 with 88 boats. Committee members from both tournaments met in 1985 and decided that instead of competing for the same guarantors and sponsors, they would merge. That year there were almost 300 entries. During those early years, there were only a handful of King Mackerel Tournaments, most of which were based here in Southeastern North Carolina. Today there are tournaments up and down the coast diluting the field of boats, but we still draw 200+ boats every year making this a huge effort and a major benefit for the club and the two fire departments. For information or to volunteer, call Ty Cobb.
2) The North Carolina King Mackerel Tournament - This Tournament/ Social Event/ Fundraiser originated in 1982 as the North Carolina Textiles Industry King Mackerel Tournament. The idea rose from Capt. Fred Holland and Harold Petty, two members who have been with the club from the beginning, and who had occupational ties to the textile industry. The idea was brainstormed with textile company representatives to come up with the current format. Simply put, the club furnishes enough boats with captains, crews, and expertise to accommodate teams of anglers sent here by the many textile companies throughout the southeast to compete. Some of these teams are regulars every year and have picked up some savvy fishing skills. The textile companies sponsor the Captain's party and Awards banquet every year and a bidding Calcutta supplies the prize money. This tournament is only a one day affair in mid October, but the competition is tough, and at times the weather has also been an adversary. Last year, tropical storm Kyle blew through the area the night before the tournament. Undaunted, the crews showed up to compete the next day: the weather turned out great and some nice fish were weighed in. This is a highly successful fundraiser for the club because of fish sales, raffles, etc. Due to rough economic times in the textiles industry, the tournament was discontinued in 2007.
3) The Got-Em-On Scholarship Golf Tournament - Our golf tournament was conceived in 1998 as a fundraiser/ service project, but we needed a cause. To make the connection of a fishing club hosting a golf tournament, we decided to let the proceeds benefit fishing in some way. With an established graduate program at UNCW and the Center for Marine Sciences located here, we took the opportunity to create a fellowship fund that benefits graduate students in Marine Sciences at the University. The idea is that students awarded these fellowships will eventually make advances toward improving the condition of our oceans, help stabilize our deteriorating marine environment, and ultimately bolster declining fisheries. It took a couple of years for the idea of a golf tournament to catch on in the club because let's face it, we are fisherman. We do, thankfully, have enough golfers sprinkled among us to make this a viable function. Last year we hit our stride in hosting our most successful golf tournament to date: net proceeds totaled $9,600. The club supplemented that amount to make a $12,500 donation to UNCW. This represented $10,000 to start a $25K endowment which will be a self perpetuating fund when complete, and a $2.500 fellowship for the year. During the Tournament's five year history, we have donated a total of $32,500 to the University. We have met all the recipients, which has made the experience more personal, and they have all been worthy, deserving, and appreciative of our effort. We would like total club support so; if you play, join us; if you don't play, tell a friend who does; and if you own a business, why not sponsor a hole? for information or to volunteer call Bobby Miller.
4) The Cape Fear Disabled Sportsmen Tournament - Created in 1999 and spearheaded by charter member, Kathy Morgan, this is one of our most appreciated and popular service projects. Participating in this will make you proud to be a Got-Em-On Live Bait Club member. The basic premise is this: we provide a day of fishing, food and fun for those with disabilities. It takes place every spring on the Kure Pier, where we offer drinks, breakfast biscuits, snacks, lunch, a tee shirt, and prizes to all participants. Bait is provided and the club furnishes a rod and reel if needed. All for free! Over the past ten years this event has grown such that we accommodate about 275 participants. It seems our only limit is the size of the pier! The CFDST has attracted the attention of groups such as Coastal Rehabilitation and Easter Seals, and the local newspapers and TV stations have given us some great exposure. We were even highlighted on CNN the first year. It is fun for everyone, but the event truly warms your heart and puts life in perspective. We as club members are held in high esteem throughout the community and receive a tremendous outpouring of support because of this function. For information or to volunteer call Dawson Freuler.
Socials - Our make-up is not all fishing, fundraising and service. We are also a social club- always have been and always will be. We usually host 5 socials a year plus a kick-butt Christmas party. They include a chowder cook-off in February, the annual Azalea Festival Blowout, and socials tied in with intra-club tournaments. The legacy of these socials is long, and some of it may not be suitable for this printing, but the conclusion is this; we can party with the best! Ask an old-timer about "rafting" all the boats in the yacht basin, the "mako races", full moons at noon, fireballs and jello shooters, the north end and Corncake Inlet beach parties....
So this is what we are about. A schedule of all our events will be posted in newsletters an on our website (www.got-em-on.com). We welcome you to our organization and invite you to participate in its functions. You are now a part of its continuing legacy and we hope you enjoy the benefits if being a Got-Em-On Live Bait Club member.