By Angela Higginbotham
First time’s a charm for 12-year-old Jack Furness of Ponte Vedra, who recently took home the grand prize in the 2017 King Buster 400 Brian Dingman Memorial Junior Angler Tournament. The yearly event was Furness’s very first time kingfishing and a new 15-foot Carolina Skiff fishing boat was awarded to him for his big catch.
“It was one of the best days of my life. I knew it was a big fish, but didn’t know what kind of fish. I was just hoping it would be a kingfish and I could reel it in,” Furness said.
The 34.3 pound kingfish put up a good fight on the way into the boat. The effort took Furness a good long while to accomplish on his own. A rule of the tournament was that the junior angler had to both hook and reel the fish all the way in. The kingfish ran for about 300 yards and eventually Furness was successful in the catch. About 40 other junior anglers were also hoping to hook the winning kingfish.
“The captains were exceptional at coaching Jack and giving him encouragement, so a special thanks goes out to Captain Rick Ryals and Capt Roger Walker,” said John Furness, Jack Furness’s father. “I wasn’t able to go on the boat, but I got a text letting me know that Jack caught a big one and it could be a winner. He may never catch a fish that big again and it was a great experience for him.”
Jack Furness first found a love for fishing when his mother, Kathleen Furness, took him fishing at the young age of two and he’s been catching fish ever since. Both the thrill of the fight and the unknown of what is hooked are what keeps Jack Furness passionate about being on the water in search of his next big one.
Furness hopes to first pick the perfect name for his new boat and then take it out on the water fishing as much as possible, starting with the Intracoastal Waterway, the Guana Tolomato Matanzas Reserve and other local bodies of water.
The tournament will definitely be a highlight of Furness’s summer. He’s also a busy student at Landrum Middle School and apart from fishing, he also enjoys basketball, football and watching movies.
“I just hope that I can continue to catch more fish and enjoy my new boat,” Furness said.
Photo courtesy Jack Furness
Jack Furness took home the grand prize in the 2017 King Buster 400 Brian Dingman Memorial Junior Angler Tournament with his 34.3 pound kingfish.