This was to be a new adventure for the series as it was expanded to the east to make the first-ever stop in Fort Pierce, FL. TS Andrea had a different plan that forced a reschedule of the event to the following weekend, June 8. Fort Pierce is a quiet coastal town with great fishing and fantastic hospitality. We experienced this at Cobb’s Landing, a very cozy, upscale eatery situated on the Fort Pierce Pier overlooking the water. The Sandhurst Hotel, also on the water, provided lodging for our contestants and further extended the area friendly atmosphere.
Things were looking up as the weather cleared late in the week. That brought kayak fishing back into everyone’s focus, and tournament day was quickly approaching. How would the fishing be after a battering storm and heavy rain? In short - not too bad, not too good.
The runoff into the fishery was heavy, but the Atlantic can really pull a tide. This brought salty waters back into the estuary, which then received more runoff. Many of the contestants went to a pass area known for prowling tarpon and huge snook. The other launches were a bit more subdued, and were good target areas for redfish and huge trout.
Fort Pierce is also known for monster trout, so all things considered it’s a great place for a Classic. Unfortunately, the rain provided too much ‘fresh’ in the saltwater, and many of the fish just would not chew. Some of the anglers saw some massive fish, and in one case a snook of notable size. Otis Coblentz and Jose ‘Pepi’ Vidal spotted a potential world-record snook that quickly snubbed Pepi’s offering and moved into position for Coblentz to take a shot. It was one of those fish that make you rub your eyes in disbelief and your heart pound in your ears. Coblentz made his cast as he watch the beast charge the D.O.A. Lures bait and slam it like there was no tomorrow. As the big female turned and raced away, Otis gave it the ‘One Mississippi’ and set the hook, only to see the lure pull and his hope swim away. Although Pepi was consoling, Otis was beside himself at having such a fish best him. The two anglers estimated the snook was in the area of 56” or more, fat like a pig and a tail you could fan a fire with. We feel for you guys. It must have hurt to watch a world-record snook wave “Good day.”
Not all was lost, however; these guys and gals were here to catch fish, and that they did. Chuck Statham took top honors with 66.7” of redfish, trout, and snook on a combination of top water and Big Hammer lures. Could this be Chuck’s secret weapon? Big Hammer is one of our sponsors, and we have been singing their praises all year. ‘Me thinks Chuck liked the music.’
Next in second place was Jose Vidal with a redfish and a snook for 47.6”. Pepi is just inches off of the series lead, and is right on Statham’s wake.
Third place was captured by Dee Kaminski, who turned in a trout and a snook for 38.2”. Dee is always entertaining, and is a great lady angler and kayak fishing guide. You can find more information on Dee on our website under our guide page.
Andrew Mixon landed a nice 29” snook to take fourth place. He also tried to pull our line with a 38” ‘Yellow Fin Tarpon” as he called it. We always expect a bit of humor with Andrew, but that was a real good one.
Rodney Nelson managed a nice redfish on a topwater to win the fifth place podium and the goodies that go with it. Rodney is getting the hang of this kayak fishing stuff, and if he keeps learning from Chuck Statham we may all have to watch out for him.
As you can see, TS Andrea did not blow us out but she sure changed things up for everyone. Many large fish were cast to, but it was no dice. They just don’t eat much when there is a lot of fresh water pouring into the estuary.
We congratulate our winners and all of the contestants who gave it their all. It was a hot and sticky day but it was all worth, it as the Top Five shared a total of $10,000 in sponsor gear. A great time was had by all. We thank all of our fantastic sponsors for making the ClassicS possible. See you next at famous Tarpon Lodge for the Pine Island Classic. Learn more at www.KayakFishingClassicS.com