Days two and three of my marathon tournament weekend put me in Port Aransas (City Marina) for the tournament check-in and captain’s meeting for the August 2015 IFA stop in Texas. The tournament entry fee is only $50 with an optional extra $50 for the “Angler Advantage” pot (which has 100% payout back to participating anglers).
This is a well run CPR (Catch, Photo, & Release) tournament with a hefty payout for the top three anglers; with a few other methods of payment going out to participates in the “Angler Advantage” pool and other side pots.
1st place = $1500
2nd place = $1000
3d place = $500
Dinner was catered and provided at the captains meeting.
I found two things disappointing. First and foremost was the unexpected change to the tournament weigh-in. It was moved 45 minutes south to a location located in an entirely different town (Corpus Christi). This caused many anglers to scramble for new plans at the last minute. The second issue with the tournament is the traffic associated with the ferry crossing onto and off of the island. It took me nearly two hours to board the ferry.
Tournament launch was not permitted until 6:45 AM. In order to keep all anglers honest your first picture of the day must be dated, time stamped and include your kayak, ruler and custom token.
I’m not too familiar with the area and was not afforded the opportunity to pre-fish. I decided to gamble and launch at the Fin and Feather Marina. This would grant me the opportunity to fish the proximity of Hog Island and also allow me to explore an area known as “The Trenches”.
I hit a couple of spots in search of trout but was unable to find any. Along the way to “The Trenches” I did find a rat red measuring a mere 17″. I continued until I arrived at “The Trenches”. As soon as I arrived I saw some birds working. I made a few casts with my trusted Rapala Pink Skitterwalk and found it was a large school of lady fish. They proved to be fun to catch but worthless for the tournament. I continued working the area and finally landed a 17″ trout. Unfortunately, he was fouled hooked with both sets of treble hooks lodged in his back. The tournament rules disqualify fish that are fouled hooked so I was forced to release him with no picture. He would not count.
I drifted the area standing on my Hobie Pro Angler in search of schooling fish and finally drifted over a school of about 15-20 slot redfish. I quickly made a cast and somehow pulled out a small 12″ trout and the school scattered. I was perplexed.
I worked the area over thoroughly. I talked to a few boaters that mentioned the topwater bite was awesome early in the morning (before I arrived. Just my luck.) After a while with no further action, I made my way back towards Hog Island.
I worked the shoreline and was becoming worried I might have made the wrong choice in locations. I was daydreaming and checking out nature when suddenly on one of my many blind casts an explosion erupted. A giant fish sprang clear out the water totally inhaling my topwater plug. The drag ripped and I became excited thinking I had hooked a monster trout. After an exhilarating fight I saw the fish up close and realized he was only a redfish, but a BIG redfish. I landed him and quickly took his photo.
In most redfish tournaments a fish this large would not count. However, in a CPR type tournament such as this an oversized redfish counts and is greatly desired.
Now the stress was on. I had a really nice redfish but no trout to complete my two fish aggregate of one speckled trout and one redfish. I hit a few more spots fishing hard during my last hour or two. I was forced to go in a bit earlier than I had expected due to the move in weigh-in locations.
I finally called it a day with only half of the species required. I pedaled back to my truck loaded up and made the 45 minute drive to the weigh-in in hopes of possibly winning the “Big Redfish Division”.
As you can see from the results above (the top 25) many anglers had far better results than myself. I was forced to depart the weigh-in with no prize money. I didn’t even win a door prize from the drawing. All I left with were a stomach full of hot dogs, chips and sodas.
There is always next time. This just means I have to fish more. I have to inform my wife I need more practice; more time on the water, and more time fishing.
Operationfish.com signing out,