The Jacksonville Classic 2010!

Few of the Hardcore Kayak Anglers Club Member went to fish the J-Ville Classic. Here is the report from Jose Chavez. Out of 400 plus kayakers, find out where Jose placed in this HUGE tournament…..

The Jacksonville Classic 2010!

Jose Chavez

The Jacksonville Classic is a charity tournament that raises funds for children’s programs at the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville, Daniel Memorial and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.

It is the biggest kayak tournament in the country and last year with an attendance of over 400 anglers, it has become the largest kayak tournament in the world. This year there were 430 participants from all over the world at the event.

The Classic has always been a tournament I have wanted to fish and this year I finally got my chance! I made the drive up with Chuck Statham (Team Shaft 1)from Tampa on Friday, the day of the captains meeting. Unfortunately due to my work schedule I was not able to do any pre-fishing.

My expectations were not very high due to the fact that I have never fished in Jacksonville before and the style of fishing is completely different from what is found in Tampa. We arrived around 4 p.m. to a parking lot full of kayaks.

Check-in was quick and painless. Chuck and I gathered our captains bag and headed inside for food and drinks. Once inside we were met by the rest of Team Emotion (John Lee, Mark Couch, Blake Beltz and David Simms), Nick Felts, Todd Llewellyn and a few other friends.

Chuck enjoying the refreshments

Dave gladly handing over money to a couple of the Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleaders to improve his odds during the raffle.

At the conclusion of the check in the hall was packed. The notorious raffle started around 6 p.m. and didn’t end until almost 10 p.m. The craziest part is that it was only half of the raffle. The classic has over 80,000 dollars in prizes and the vast majority of that is for the raffle.

Emotion Kayaks Fishing Team
The next morning started at 4:30, when Nick, Chuck and I packed up and headed to the launch location. We arrived at 5 a.m., about an hour before launch time only to find another angler already there. By the time 6 rolled around there were about 40 other kayakers there waiting to launch.

Todd getting prepared at the launch

The plan was to work a couple of docks and islands in search of a trout and flounder and then relocate to another area at the change of the tide to find a redfish. After on the 3rd dock I visited I managed to pull a 23.5 inch redfish. I waved Chuck over and on his second cast, he hooked into a 24 incher. After a couple other casts we decided to move on to some muddy grass beds to find flounder. Unfortunately by this time the wind had kicked up to 15-20 mph which made fishing miserable.

After an hour without any success we decided to paddle over to a few islands that would provide us some shelter from the wind. My first cast by the island resulted in a flounder which was about 13 inches, but he spit the hook boatside. On my second cast my jig was greeted by another flounder. I sighed with relief when I landed him. Took a quick pic and waved Chuck into the area. Chuck hooked up with a slightly smaller flounder on his second cast. We continued working the area without success and decided to move to our second launch.

The general consensus was that if you don’t catch a trout by 9 a.m. it would be very difficult to find a quality trout, if you could find one at all. Unfortunately, this proved to be true. Trout were very scarce and all seemed to be undersized, which didn’t help me in a tournament that require legal fish. When Chuck and I had given up and decided to move one, I announced that I was making “one last cast” that thankfully resulted in a 16.25 inch trout. With my slam complete, we moved on looking to upgrade the redfish. Unfortunately no upgrades came and it was time to go back to the weigh in.

When I arrived at the weigh in I was surprised to see that no slams had been turned in. I guess the high winds had become a factor in angler’s success. By the time I made it to the booth to submit my pictures there was 1 slam in front of me. I figured with 30 minutes left I might actually have a chance. The tournament only pays out 5 places and unfortunately by the conclusion of the submissions I found myself in 6th place. Mark Couch also ended up with 2nd place in the trout category which scored him a 300 dollar carbon fiber paddle.

I was still happy with my result though, 6th place out of 430 was not bad, not to mention it was an area that I had never fished before that requires a completely different style of fishing from what I am used to doing.
I had a great time and will definitely be back next year!