Some anglers pre-fished on Thursday and Friday and managed nice catches in the morning, but were blown off of the Lagoon around noon each day. Tournament day was a bit breezy, but the anglers managed to get the job done. Finding redfish proved to be a bit of a challenge as the wind became a game changer.
Many contestants were hooking up with some gator trout in the morning hours, then the reds made their appearance on the flats around noon. The anglers had to be in the weigh in line no later than 2:30 p.m. to present their photos for the CPR event, and a few just made it under the wire.
There were three lady anglers in the Classic, and as expected they did quite well. Kayak fishing guide Dee Kaminski, Jean McElroy, and Vickie Sallee all did battle with the wind, large trout and of course the mighty Mosquito Lagoon redfish. The area is very well known for huge redfish; it is not uncommon to tangle with brutes measuring 40” – 50” inches. We did not see that at the weigh in on tournament day, but we did learn that the area trout population is equally brutish for the species. This was a redfish-only tournament, but we may have to include trout next year. Several anglers caught 29” – 32” gators, and a few larger ones got away. The Mosquito Lagoon is an impressive fishery for sure.
Gulf Coast divisional series leader Chuck Statham entered the Mosquito Lagoon Redfish Classic and walked away with an impressive victory, in spite of having never fished the Lagoon before. Chuck entered three redfish with a combined length of 71 3/10” using BlackDog Rods and DOA Lures. Statham once again showed his talents and earned the lion’s share of the $10,000 in sponsor gear prizes.
Michael Teixidor of Miami landed second place with a total of 62 3/10”, all caught on DOA Lures “Glow Shrimp”. He also landed the largest red of the tournament, which measured 31 2/10”. Teixidor has been a force to deal with in the past, and has made his presence known in the East division. He was very excited with his win and all of the great sponsor gear that went with it.
Jean McElroy outfished most of the boys, scoring 49 8/10”to capture third place in her first-ever Classic also using DOA Lures. Jean had the curly tails working, and was catching some huge trout until the reds finally showed up on the flats. It was 2 p.m. when she scored her reds, and she still had to make it back to the weigh in by 2:30 p.m. Jean just made it in time, and we are glad she did. The young angler was most surprised and excited to have placed in the Top Five, and could not believe all of the fantastic sponsor prizes that she won. We think she had a great time…
Jimmy Cook hooked fourth place with an entry of two redfish measuring 45 8/10”, using MirrOlure baits to fool the reds. Cook is new to the KFC Tournament Series and has been learning rapidly. This is another name to remember.
Miami angler Johnathan Ross landed fifth place with a total of 42 4/10”, caught on DOA Lures. Ross is no stranger to the ClassicS, and will be following the East Coast division series this year. He is a big DOA Lure fan and caught several fish, all on the brand’s shrimp baits. Like so many anglers on this day, most were big trout in the morning and some nice afternoon reds just managed to get away. Fifth place is nothing to take lightly. When you look at the field of contestants, Ross outfished some pretty big names on the lagoon.
It is interesting to note that it could have been anyone’s day with the difference of one good-sized fish that did not wreak havoc on an angler’s rod and line or straighten a hook or two. One angler watched more than one big redfish separate his line - better try Spiderwire.
Jose Vidal has been instrumental in bringing the Kayak Fishing ClassicS to Florida’s East Coast, and has been extremely helpful to us. We wish to publicly acknowledge all of his hard work and thank him once again. Jose is a wealth of information, and one of those great guys that will gladly share it with you. Mr. Diablo, as we call him, really helped make it possible for us to be there we and greatly appreciate it. We also wish to thank Charles Levi, aka “Redfish Chuck” of Kayak Fishing Radio, and all of the contestants who fished the East divisional opener. Thank you for making us feel so welcome and appreciated. We are looking forward to our next East division series event, April 6 on the Banana River. See you there, and good fishing.