Bill Dance Outdoors


Mercury-powered Under Armour Fishing Team beats the weather, claims season's first Southern Kingfish

There's an age-old theory in fishing: The biggest fish eat first.

That's exactly what Capt. Arik Bergerman and the crew of the Under Armour Fishing Team were counting on Sunday as they throttled down the four 350hp Mercury Verado outboards on Bergerman's 39-foot Yellowfin and set the kites and downriggers for the first morning troll of the 20th Annual Stock Island Village Marina King Mackerel Tournament in Key West.

The three-day event – the first of the 2016 season on the Southern Kingfish Association's (SKA) Mercury Trail South Florida Division – had already been shortened to one day because of weather, and with 10- to 12-foot waves and a steady 25-knot wind blowing from the north, Bergerman and UA teammates Randy Keys, Daniel Hamilton, Seth Funt and Jordan Funt knew that the bite window would be small.

The first fish of the day, however, was not.

Team Under Armour boated a 39.81-pound kingfish to claim the SKA trophy, the second year in a row that Bergerman and the Mercury-powered UA boat have taken the tournament's pro-division trophy.

"These SKA tournaments are part fishing tournament, part boat race," Bergerman admitted. "Sometimes you have to run two, three, four hours to get to your fish, and fish are like lions: the biggest ones eat first. If you get to the spot first, you usually get the big fish. We run quad 350 Verados, so we're always the first boat there."

Bergerman's confidence in the 39-foot Yellowfin and its 1,400 combined horses of Mercury power is well founded. In addition to back-to-back wins in the Stock Island Marina event and a victory in last April's Gulf Coast Open out of Sarasota, Florida, he and his team have racked up more than 30 Top 5 tournament finishes in the past six years, and the UA-wrapped boat and her four black Verado outboards are among the most recognizable on the nine-division SKA roster.

"It's important to have fast, dependable engines if you really want to compete in these tournaments," Bergerman said. "We had a big wind blowing from the north, it was colder than usual, the water was really dirty, and we had a full moon. Bait is hard to find in those conditions. We had to analyze the conditions, find the chlorophyll on the charts and run 80 miles around the Dry Tortugas Islands. We were able to leave last and get there first, running 45 to 50 miles an hour in windy, rough conditions. That's why we run a big boat and quad 350 Verados."

Mercury Marine and the SKA

The Mercury SKA Tournament Trail is the world's largest saltwater tournament trail, featuring nine divisions and more than 50 sanctioned kingfish tournaments contested in eight states. The Trail culminates at the Mercury Pro Tour Championship and Mercury National Championship tournaments in the fall. Standings and schedules are available at www.fishska.com.

About Mercury Marine

Headquartered in Fond du Lac, Wis., Mercury Marine is the world's leading manufacturer of recreational marine propulsion engines. A $2 billion division of Brunswick Corporation (NYSE: BC), Mercury provides engines, boats, services and parts for recreational, commercial and government marine applications, empowering boaters with products that are easy to use, extremely reliable and backed by the most dedicated customer support in the world. Mercury's industry-leading brand portfolio includes Mercury and Mariner outboard engines; Mercury MerCruiser sterndrive and inboard packages; MotorGuide trolling motors; Mercury propellers; Mercury inflatable boats; Mercury SmartCraft electronics; Attwood marine parts; Land 'N Sea marine parts distribution; and Mercury and Quicksilver parts and oils. More information is available at mercurymarine.com.

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