The tournament is a friendly tournament that only cost $75 per boat. Most boats had 2 to 4 people on it and you can use bait if you wish. This year the 64 team roster was the largest ever for the tournament.
I met up with Andrew and the team at the ramp at 6:30 to register and have the captain’s meeting. By 7am everyone was off and running to their favorite spot.
The conditions were slick calm when we got to our first spot. A shallow flat with an incoming tide. We had two guys using top water one person using jigs and me with a mirror dine.
With the favorable conditions I could see mullet all over. To me mullet is considered bait and my theory is that predators love to hang around bait.
I did my best to work shallow but I was getting hung up on grass so I worked deeper and deeper to almost waist high. The bite was slow us guys using arties but I finally caught a jack and then a small trout at about 15″ which I threw back.
From fishing the tournament last year I knew a 15″ trout would be a total waste of time. It is a live bait tournament so these guys were hauling in some giant trout at over 6lbs and measuring in the high 20’s.
As the sun got a little higher the mullet started to become more active. This was a good sign and gave me a bit of confidence. Casting deeper my Mirrodine got inhaled with what I thought was a large jack. When the fish got closer I realized it was very nice trout. It made such a splash everyone turned to look. A couple seconds later what estimated to me a 23″ trout came off 10 feet from me. I was quite upset as that was very nice trout, or so I thought.
Disappointed I continue to work the same angles and two cast later I got hammered by even a larger fish. This fish was strong fish and there was no head shake so immediately I thought it was a nice redfish.
When he start to zig and zig the redfish notion started to fade. When the fish came up to shake it’s head it was confirmed this was the largest trout of my life if I was to land her.
Now a bit shaken I lighten the drag as not to pull the hook. Without a net or Boga grip in hand I was a tad nervous but remained calm.
I remember to put my feet together so the fish could not run in between them. After what seemed like an eternity I grabbed her by the back of the head and landed my personal best sea trout.
At this point our team was ecstatic and we are now headed to find us a redfish.
At 28″ and the huge back we knew it was tough to upgrade. We wanted to get to a redfish flat to get the beast Redfish that was in the slot of 27″.
We caught the trout so fast we showed up too early to the new flat as the water was still quite low. We tried the same strategy of splitting up to cover more ground but all anyone could manage was jacks , rat Red and lady fish. We decided to make another move to a flat with more water.
This time everyone stayed in the boat as we slowly drifted in the almost dead calm waters. At this point my arm was getting fatigue from all the casting and decided to sit and take a break while the other three guys continued to fish.
It did not take long for a fish to get hooked and some one screamed “grab the net!”. I got up to get a net and immediately saw it was a redfish. It however, looks to be well over the slot of 27″. It was so tall a fish this wide normally would 29″. I netted the fish and we measured it and incredibly measured under 27″ the Florida max limit.
We were done and it was only 11am. The fishing was not the greatest but the fish we caught were pigs and exactly what we need to be in the runnings. We spent the rest of time taking photos, getting lunch and got back at the weigh in at about 2pm.
At the weight in, to make everyone on our team nervous another team came in with a longer trout and a longer redfish. We decided to weigh in last as that was our strategy.
The leading team weigh in at 15.58 a new tournament record so it was quite nerve racking. Their trout came in at 7.5 our trout was 7.17 talk about nervous. Our redfish was shorter but it looked fatter so it had to do it for us. Otherwise we would have to settle for 2nd place.
Our redfish fish weight in at 8.52lbs. This let us edge them out by only .11lb at 15.69lb a new tournament record, winning the largest redfish calcutta as well as the overall.
We took home the gold, set a new tournament record as well as me landing my personal best trout. It was a good weekend.