The DOA Lures is a unique tournament, as all anglers are given an identical box of DOA lures and that is all we can use for the entire day.
Our game plan was to fish an area around the Little Jim Bridge, which has a main channel leading out to the Ft. Pierce Inlet. As we prefished the area the day before, we knew that come Saturday there would be no water on the flats, so the fish should be holding in the deeper cuts and channels.
My plan was to start out by working a DOA Shrimp along the bottom of one of these channels until the flats held enough water for the fish to get on, and then work the deep pot holes on the flats. I modified my shrimp to get down to the bottom quicker by removing the stock hook and using one of the supplied jig heads.
As I was drifting out with the tide I noticed a lot of bait fishing holding close to the edge’s of this channel, right up in the grass line. I also noticed some feeding activity, which I was expecting. Rigging the largest of the jerk baits (5”) with a weightless hook, I casted right on this grass edge and worked this lure just like a top water lure. In fact I found out that the Snook wanted it moving just as fast as I could retrieve it.
The strikes were explosive. Missing my first one, I quickly casted to the same area and the fight was on. It’s been a while since I have had a good snook on the end of my line, this one made several acrobatic jumps and a couple of drag peeling runs before I got it landed. Sorry, no grip-n-grin photos.
Arrrggghhhhh, 26 inches. 2 inches short of the minimum slot length. Oh well, I could still use it for Kayak Wars and Team Kayak Fishing Radio, so I snapped a quick picture and got it back in the water. Working the same shore line I missed one more snook and caught a nice fat 19” Trout. All before 8am. Now I’m thinking if I can just find a Redfish and upgrade my Snook, I have a pretty good shot. We had seen some really nice Snook out on the flats, so I was somewhat confident I could upgrade.
Once the water came up on the flats, I switched to the Cal Shad Tail, once again using the supplied hook and pinch weights. If I have one complaint about this tournament, its with these hooks and weights. It’s bound to happen that you will have to re-rig a setup like this. Way too many puffer and pinfish that love to eat the tails off these lures. The pinch weights have to be removed each time, taking precious fishing time each time you do it. The hooks in my opinion are way to flimsy, as I would find out later.
The hook on the bottom is the result of a 25” snook. The hook on top is what it used to look like.
My third pole would have the DOA Deadly Combo, which is a popping cork and DOA shrimp. It’s almost like having a top water lure in the box, a great Trout catcher I have also caught some nice Redfish with it as well. Except for today. In fact, neither Norm nor I even saw a redfish all day. We did have some run ins with some big Snook and I had a personal best Trout on, only to lose it right at the kayak. The water clarity was excellent, making sight cast quite possible all day.
No slams were caught this year, which was very surprising. As with each year, the tournament has a strong willingness to get kids involved, they have a 12 and under and 12 to 16 category.
The winners for the 2011 DOA Lures Paddlers Only Tournament were as follows:
12 and under – Kaci Wilkinson with a 18” Trout.
12 to 16 youth – Derrick (didn’t catch his last name) with 48” (33”Snook / 15” Trout) This was Derricks second win. I believe he won last year as well. They both went home with brand new Ocean Kayaks Caper’s.
The Adult division awarded brand new Ocean Kayaks Prowler 13T to 1st thru 4th place.
1st Place with 56.5” (29”Snook / 27” Trout) Jean Mcelroy
2nd Place with 55.6” (29 ¼” Trout / 26 ½” Redfish) Chuck Statham
3rd Place with 51” Shawn Bletz
4th Place with 50 ½” Sharon Magwood
Another great tournament, I’m already looking forward to the next one.
About the Author: Bill Howard is a Pro Staff Member at Yakangler.com, as well as Malibu Kayaks. He is also on the Columbia Sportswear Pro Team. Bill is an avid photographer and writer, contributing to numerous websites and publications in the Tampa Bay area.
In 2008 he completed a 17 day, 129 mile trip around Tampa Bay raising nearly $4000 dollars for the American Heart Association. He is also a board member for the Tampa Bay Chapter of Hero's on the Water.