Monday, April 15, 2013

Paddlepalooza X Final Report

I lost most of the pictures from this day but all 12 reds looked about like this.
This is my final report for Paddlepalooza X.  I hope this little bit of a window into tournament fishing my perk your interest.

As mentioned in the previous two posts; there is a surprising amount of planning (and praying) that goes into planning your tournament day.  For years now we have had some success with the following plan:
  1. Catch a trout
  2. Catch a 26" red
  3. Spend the rest of the day looking for a flounder.
I say "we" but I mean the fishing buddy has had some success.  I've lost 3 flounder during tournaments that would have a total worth of at least $500 but in general I have settled for placing in the Redfish Division or the Trout Division over the 6 years I've fished Paddlepalooza.

This year was a very unique day.  I broke pattern and decided to go for the redfish first.  Fishing buddy stuck with the plan and went for his trout first - funny thing is we did just the opposite.  I started the day with a trout in my Redfish hole and he caught a monster redfish in his trout hole.  Go figure.

As mentioned in previous posts I've been catching a surprising number of trout on a silver Johnson Silver Minnow in 1/8th oz size.  Paddlepalooza was no different. Not a big trout but a solid 14" trout.  

Then I moved further into the marsh looking for the special redfish I'd been catching for weeks.  I'd caught about 5 bruising 26.5 inch redfish over the previous month along with a large number of bulls.  Today was going to prove to be different.  I caught around a dozen reds all identical in size to the four spotted red in the picture above.

How I did it was remarkable:  I paddled into a small trenasse(sp) that lead into the marsh.  I've caught nice fish in this area on my previous three trips and today would be no difference.  The first was caught right in the same spot I had already caught two but there I spooked a huge school of reds (20ish) and I began to follow them into the marsh.  I stopped to eat once to let them settle down and as I sat and ate I thought I heard rain.  I would later realize it was that school of reds beating the marsh around a small pond.

Turns out I literally had corralled these reds into a small pond about 20-30ft in diameter.  What I proceeded to do was catch seven of them right in that one spot.  But each fish was smaller than the previous as I wound my way down from a 25.5 incher to a 23.5 inch fish.  It was epic.  I literally watched them swim around the pond while I kept my boat parked across the exit.  Each time they came near I would catch one - then they would scatter, regroup, and we would repeat.  Finally I grew tired and knew that tactically I had to move one to the flounder.

A 25.5 (fat) redfish and a 14" trout would not place in the tourney (although the four spotted redfish might come in handy) but if they were coupled with a nice flounder I could win some nice cash.  So off I went with 6 hours to catch one fish.
The fishing buddy had a much nicer pairing of a 26.5inch red and an 18 inch trout.  

So we did something we never do, we pulled up our stakes and set up to relaunch. Our first idea was packed out with people, as was our second, and third.  In desperation I reached out to some friends.  Just as we were about to launch I received a location 2 hours later nothing - time to move.  Back to plan one after another hour nothing.  Along with driving time our gig was up.  

Turns out the place we were about to launch had produced several flounder that day - who knows if they would have still been there?  We will never know.

But we proved the saying (our own):  Do not let a tournament ruin a great day of fishing.  

It truly was a great day of fishing - the fishing buddy won 5th place Red and a 5 spotted red beat me out of a small prize so we went home, licking our wounds, and thinking about next year but that's another story....

In all I thank God for the ability to fish in this manner, and I realize the day of fishing I had is a rare experience even among regular anglers.  I am very blessed, indeed and I need to remember that!

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