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Scott, Phil and Doug Little were in town for a double celebration this week, Scott’s 60th birthday, and most importantly, the 6th Biennial Little Fishing Competition.
“We do this special thing,” said Doug, who hosts the competition at his home where the Old Ice-house used to be located. “This is our sixth time. We do it every other year.”
The trio of cousins is one short of its typical quartet this year - David Fike could not make it. The men came from Tennessee, South Carolina and Kentucky to compete for the coveted Captain Morgan award, a decorated oversize bottle of distilled spirits given to the fisherman who catches the biggest redfish.
Other prizes are awarded for the redfish with the most tail spots, and for catching the most variety of species.
“It’s not so much what the award is,” Phil explained. “It’s achieving it. We’re all very competitive.”
So far Scott holds the all-time record for the biggest redfish ever caught - 34 inches. He takes pride in his nickname of Kingfish, and is quick to state that this time around, “I’m already in the lead so far.”
“But not for long,” Phil and Doug chorus.
The men rib each other constantly. The only picture of Scott’s prized redfish shows Phil holding it. It’s a photo he’s happy to show off. “People think I caught it,” Phil said.
The group typically practices catch and release. “We take pictures,” said Phil.
“With my fish,” adds Scott.
When participating in the competition, Phil goes by the nickname Chum Bucket. “They call me lots of things,” he said.
“You can’t believe everything they say,” Doug is quick to amend.
“We have never lied to the press,” Phil solemnly states to smiles all around.
The group loves heckling each other. “All in fun. Never malicious,” Doug said. His cousins call him Captain Ron, a reminder of the various times that he has sunk his boat - not to mention the time he put his boat, along with his truck, in the Gulf.
Doug received the “Driving Truck in the Ocean Award” for that escapade.
After a day of fishing, the men enjoy an evening ritual, sitting on the deck and sipping drinks while watching the sunset. “We don’t care where we are, we rush back here for the sunset,” Doug said.
The men grew up together in the Appalachians in eastern Kentucky. Scott and Phil are brothers, first cousins to Doug and David. “We’re all like brothers,” explained Phil. “We never even thought about ourselves as cousins.”
When not competing against each other for the biggest fish, the men work in a variety of occupations. Scott is a wholesale tire distributor, Phil is a marketing director, and Doug is a gasoline wholesaler - heading a family business that dates to 1925 when his grandfather delivered kerosene by horse and buggy.
For Scott’s birthday, Doug surprised him with a CD of a reel to reel recording made in 1971 of a musical performance of his quartet The Fudge Sundaes. He didn’t know the recording existed. “We sat on the porch and listened to it and cried like babies,” Scott said.
Presstime update: The tournament ended Wednesday with Phil having caught the most fish, Doug having caught the most species, and Scott's record of the biggest fish still holding strong.