BLOG: Bryant - Tough Start to Tournament Season
The 2010 redfish tournament season officially kicked off last weekend with the Texas Redfish Series (TRS) event out of Port Aransas, Texas. A total of 91 teams signed up for this event, which is a little light for a TRS draw, but given the cold, windy and overall terrible fishing conditions lately, 91 isn't such a bad number.
My teammate, Trey Russo, and I prefished hard for this one. We checked north, south and lots of places in between. Saying our practice was tough would be an understatement - it was downright brutal. But nonetheless, we were still hopeful that we'd have our shot at a decent stringer if we executed well on tournament day.
Trey and I started the morning by getting out of the boat and blanketing an area slowly with Killer Flats Minnows on 1/4-ounce jigheads hopped slowly along the bottom. We usually prefer to stay in the boat to catch our fish, but the colder-than-normal conditions still have the fish in a winter pattern, and we knew we'd need to slow down and wade to be most effective. I got to put the new TTF Micro Wade Pouch to the test. I loaded the pouch with a few different sizes of jigheads, four sinking plugs, four bags of Flats Minnows and one bag of BIG MINOs and I still had plenty of room for extra lures if I needed them. If you're still wading with a big box or a bulky belt, you ought to give the Micro Wade a try. It's small, light and easy to manage.
Now back to fishing...
We were on fish - they were just the wrong kind. We put hooks in several solid speckled trout before noon. They were picking our East Beast Killer Flats Minnows right off the grassy bottom in 3.5 feet of water. In the meantime, some friends of ours who were also competing in the tournament were busy sticking 7-plus pound redfish wading just a few hundred yards away. It was frustrating watching them string those hefty fish while we were releasing specks, but some days that's just how it goes. On any other day we would've been happy to stay there and add those thick speckled trout to our stringers, but on tournament day a speckled trout might as well be a hardhead.
We knew there were tournament-quality redfish in the area, so we put our heads down and worked every inch of that shoreline for all it was worth. Unfortunately, our efforts were only rewarded with a few fish on the short end of keeper size and we had to return to the weigh-in with a livewell full of nothing but 20 gallons of frigid bay water.
Many competitors were surprised to see a number of heavy bags hit the scales, but Trey and I knew the potential was out there for a big sack if you could find those two "right bites". A big congrats to Gene Boerm and David White of Team Shoalwater for their win. Gene and David put 16.22 pounds of redfish on the scales in some of the toughest conditions I've ever fished in a tournament. They definitely earned that trophy!
And while we're on the subject of Team Shoalwater, Trey and I fished out of Trey's new 23' Shoalwater Cat for this event and all I can say is WOW! I'm absolutely amazed at what we were able to do in this boat. I've fished out of dozens of different boats, and I think the Shoalwater is probably the finest all-around tournament boat I've casted from so far. It's got everything: size, speed, stability, shallow-water draft and a hole shot I truly had to see to believe. The only problem with the boat is that it doesn't belong to me!
The next stop for the Redfish Series is east to Delacroix, Louisiana. Most redfish anglers consider the vast marsh system south of New Orleans to be the finest redfishing in the world, and many refer to the areas of Delacroix, Grand Isle, Hopedale, Lafitte and Venice as "Redfish Paradise". Needless to say, Trey and I are absolutely stoked to put the boat in the water over there. Catching fish won't be a problem. The challenge will be finding the two mammoth redfish it will take to win this event. Most tournaments in that area are won with 17 pounds or more, and typically several 16-pound bags come to the scales. Catching 14 or 15 pounds is just average in Redfish Paradise, so we'll be on the hunt for giants. Wish us luck!
See ya' on the water,
Jason Bryant/Team TTF