OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss.- When local angler Troy Helwig departed Ocean Springs Harbor early one morning last fall along with six good friends for a day of Gulf angling, the dead calm waters gave no hint for what was in store for the day.
The group headed out 75 miles aboard a fully-rigged, 28-foot center console, first stopping at a rig to pick up some live hardtails for bait. They soon had lines overboard, the action heated up, and the fishing fun meter pegged at wide open. "It was incredible," says Helwig. "Everyone got their limit with some pretty big fish. I had brought up an 80-pounder to the gunnel before the line snapped, so I was the only one without. My heart broke." However, there was one last tasty hardtail, and Helwig dropped it over into the misty-blue-green waters to see if the bait would do its job.
The silence was soon broken by the sizzling sound of reel drag, and Helwig was on for a half-hour ride of his life, ending up landing a state record (later broken) Greater Amberjack weighing in at 114.32 lbs. "It felt like I was reeling in a VW bug," says the angler, whose tree-trunk size arms got a heck of workout. Helwig captured the event with his smartphone and submitted the photo to the 2012 BoatUS Angler Catch of the Month Photo Contest, which earned him a grand prize in the saltwater category, capping the 12-month, online photo contest. Helwig's prize is a high-quality replica of the Amberjack from The Fish Mount Store.
"I just wanted to thank you again for putting on such an awesome contest!" said Helwig. "It's nice for us weekend warriors to be able to enter something like this. Great job, guys!"
In the freshwater category, the BoatUS Angler Catch of the Month photo contest crowned Gary Miller of Palatine, Illinois, the winner with his photo of monster 19.5 lb. Northern Pike from Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Miller was fishing with a buddy for Muskie on Peavey Pond throwing a big clothespin spinner bait on a cool, rainy day, keeping to the pond's protected bays. "I had a Lindy's rig with rubber tail," says Miller, "And when the fish hit, I thought it was a Muskie, because it hit like a freight train." As he reeled the fish near the boat, Miller told his buddy that the net on the board wasn't going to do the job, just as the fish bolted again and ran several times before it could be finally landed with some helping hands. "It was my biggest Northern Pike, ever," says Miller, who will also earned a full mount replica from The Fish Mount Store.
Helwig and Miller will also have their BoatUS Angler on-the-water and roadside assistance towing plan upgraded to "Unlimited" status, which can help these anglers 24-hours a day with breakdowns on the water and will tow a disabled boat trailer and tow vehicle up to 100 miles to your home, repair facility or other safe spot.
The next BoatUS Angler Catch of the Month Photo Contest begins April 1, 2013. To submit a photo for monthly prizes, go to www.BoatUSangler.com/contest
. For more information on BoatUS Angler and the fishing photo contest, go to www.BoatUSAngler.com
About BoatUS Angler:
BoatUS Angler, a membership program from the nation's largest association of recreational boaters, offers services such as on-the-water towing for disabled fishing boats, roadside assistance for both boat trailers and tow vehicles, specialized fishing boat insurance, the "Weigh-to-Win" tournament cash program and money-saving benefits. Visit BoatUSAngler.com for more.