Several contestants spent a couple of days on the water pre-fishing for the event, and did not find very many fish on the flats. The wind combined with the rain to stain the local waters, making for some very tough conditions on tournament day. Morning rains and evening storms put the tournament in doubt, but the sky cleared for Saturday and Sunday. The contestants launched their kayaks from either Matlacha or Pine Island in pursuit of tarpon, snook, redfish and trout, all needed to earn the Master Slam title in this event.
We spent Friday morning on the flats in front of the Tarpon Lodge on a photo shoot with artist Steve Whitlock, who was working on a kayak fishing drawing for the ClassicS and the KFC Tournament Trail Magazine. We found some nice reds and snook in clearer water on the grass flats, so things were looking up - until late afternoon, when the rains and wind showed up again.
William Lusk, who follows the series, was chosen as the subject matter in the new Steve Whitlock kayak drawing. After the photo shoot, William and his partner headed out to find fish and made it back just before the storms hit. We were safe in the Tarpon Lodge and thankful for the nearby shelter, as William later showed us a photo of a water spout that ended their day on the water.
On tournament day, several anglers headed into the backcountry. This did not seem to make a lot of sense considering all of the runoff from a few days of heavy rains, but it proved to be the right call. Others headed out onto the flats with the same objectives, but did not meet with as much success. It seemed that the best action was in the backcountry, and the scoring proved it as the ClassicS welcomed some new faces and some new winners to the victory podiums.
Scoring the only four-fish slam to win the tournament was Doug Schallmoser, who scored an impressive 89.8 “of fish. Doug earned the 10 point slam bonus for a total of 99.8”and the win. The ClassicS uses a slam bonus in the slam tournaments so that two fish will not beat three fish or in this tournament, three fish would not beat four fish. The slam bonus is the only bonus that counts onto the tournament score of total inches, and the contestants like this as it is much harder to catch four species than three of four.
There were several other anglers that had three fish scored and were working on the tarpon, but just could not keep the crazy jumping juveniles on the hook. Bonita Bob Bramblet had a tough day with the redfish, but scored the other three. It is not easy to catch all four fish under tournament conditions in a short period of time, so the title of Master Slam Winner is very well deserved. Congratulations to Doug, who used D.O.A. Shrimp on the tarpon.
In second place was Steve Miller with 61.3”. Steve also was in the backcountry, and just could not find a tarpon for the slam. All in all, it was a very good day for Steve, who enjoyed his share of the $10,000 Sponsor Gear Prize Package.
Bonita Bob Bramblet took the third place podium, and also did very well with the D.O.A. Shrimp and scored a total of 60.4”without a slam bonus. Bonita Bob caught his tarpon early, but as stated before, he could not connect with a redfish.
Joe Komyati stood tall on the fourth place podium with three fish totaling 56.2”. Joe used a combination of D.O.A. MirrOlure lures for his catches, and has moved up nicely in the series standings with podium finishes in the past two ClassicS.
Steve Gibson captured fifth place with three fish measuring 51.5”for his first ClassicS podium finish. Steve was called away, and Jory Pearson of Florida Paddle Sports, a local Diablo kayak dealer, accepted Steve’s share of the sponsor goodies for him.
The awards ceremony was hosted by Miceli’s Restaurant on Matlacha. If ever you are in the neighborhood, stop in for some home-cooked Italian food that will knock your kayak booties off. The famous Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island was the lodging host for the Pine Island Master Slam Classic, and we also highly recommend a stay there while you are in the area.
Next up is the Inn on the Gulf, Fillmans Bayou Classic scheduled for August 11 in Aripeka, which is another unique and special fishery loaded with spring fed bayous, crystal clear water and plenty of fish. To learn more about the ClassicS visit us at www.KayakFishingClassicS.com and “Good Fishing”.