On Friday, July 12, several top anglers pre-fished the famous digs of some huge fish. The water was muddy and stirred up as a result of the rain and wind of the past two weeks. Perhaps I should call it a monsoon, all courtesy of the Bermuda high that had been camped in the Atlantic. Joe Komyati landed a perfect 38” tarpon while pre-fishing, and his partner Michael Julian did like-wise with a beautiful snook, so the fish were there and would eat. Or at least those two did.
The anglers found fish and caught some very nice ones. The freshwater runoff was very evident and definitely had an effect. Locating fish and getting them to chew was going to be the name of the game, and would require some top fishing knowledge and skills.
At 4am on tournament morning, the sky was clear as I watched the glowing meteors streak across the Milky Way. I always love to do that when I am on Pine Island. It’s almost as if you can reach for the stars, and some of the anglers were going to need that kind of luck to just find fish that would eat. Many angles located tarpon, snook, redfish and trout - all on the target list for this Classic- but they could not get any action. This could prove to be tough for the masses.
That was not the case for Josh Maitland. The amiable young angler had a great day. Josh scored a total of 72.4” to capture first place and the overall win in the Pine Island Classic. He landed a 19.6” redfish on a DOA paddle tail, a 22.8” trout on a Heddon “Super Spook Jr.” and aced his victory with a 30” snook, also caught on a Spook Jr. Josh got into tarpon, but just could not coax one to take his offering. Perhaps a RiverBum fly would have turned the trick? The poons would either nose a lure or just turn away immediately after the lure would splash down onto the surface, a lesson in frustration for sure. All of us at the ClassicS congratulate Josh Maitland for his decisive victory in the Pine Island Classic.
Ever present, Chuck Statham was right on his friend’s wake and hooked second place with a total of 66.7”. Chuck landed a 24.3” redfish, a 15.8” trout, and a 26.6” snook, all on topwater lures. We think he may have been using some of the new Live Target Lures, but mum was the word from the series leader.. Great job, Chuck! You are having a fantastic year, and we’ll see you in Ozello.
Joe Komyati would have given almost anything to have landed that 38” tarpon on Saturday instead of Friday, but that was in the stars. Joe did an awesome job to land a total of 63.2”, also all on topwater lures. He was also quiet about which lures he was using. Joe is in second place in the series and only 20” behind the leader. Joe scored a 22” redfish, a 15.5” trout, and a fat 25.7” snook for his third place podium finish. Nicely done, Joe, and sorry you used up all of your tarpon mojo on Friday.
Michael Julian landed fourth place with a total of 58.9” with three fish caught on MirrOlure lures and Spook Jr. It was a topwater day for sure. Michael scored a 20.2” redfish, a 12” trout, and a 26.7” snook. He, too, got to play the frustration game with the tarpon, and will be bringing his fly rod from now on. Michael is also in contention for the series championship and knows it’s crunch time. Congratulations, Michael Julian, and we know you will be throwing feathers in Ozello.
Preston Haytac of Team KaKu Kayaks took fifth place for his team with a total of 53.2” and landed the only tarpon of the day. Preston landed a 17.6” poon, a 16.3” trout, and a 19.3” snook. Please keep in mind that the size limit on tarpon was set at 40”, for the both the anglers and tarpon protection. There were plenty of tarpon around, but were of the cruiser class. Targeting smaller poons is difficult at best but the KaKu Kayak made the job easier for Preston. It is notable to mention the Team KaKu Kayaks member Nicholas Costillo was right on Preston’s wake with a total score of 52.7”.