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Tuesday, 17 September 2013 19:59

Statham Wins Ozello Classic…Captures First Place in Gulf Series Division

Written by Kayak Fishing ClassicS
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The Kayak Fishing ClassicS held the fourth annual Ozello Classic on September 7, 2013 hosted by Pecks Old Port Cove Restaurant. The Ozello Classic was the fifth and final Gulf Coast divisional tournament and series championship. Chuck Statham won first place in the three-redfish event, and captured the Gulf Series Divisional Championship. Let’s look at the winning order for the tournament, and then the Top Five finishers for the series.

Weather is always a consideration on the Gulf of Mexico, and it seems to play a considerable role on just about every tournament day. September 7 was an exception, as the rising sun greeted all anglers with a spectacular show. The old saying “Red sky in morning, sailors take warning…” did not hold true. In fact, it could not have been any better as the contestants were given their permits and launched promptly at 6:00am. There was a slight (around 4 kts) breeze and the inshore waters stayed calm to mild chop all day - perfect.

The Kayak Fishing ClassicS Tournament Series permits artificial baits/lures only. All fish are photographed while on the official measuring tape, then revived and released. All data collected at photo weigh in is shared with various marine research organizations throughout the year.

Chuck Statham landed over a dozen redfish. He recorded three reds - 26”, 28.5” and 29.5” - for a total of 84”, all on D.O.A. shrimp and topwater baits. An outstanding job, as the huge reds were nowhere to be found on tournament day, unlike the pre-fishing days that recorded some true denizens of the flats. There had been a torrential downpour the night before the event, and that sometimes will push off some fish. We congratulate Chuck on his victory, and know he will enjoy his share of the $10,000 of sponsor gear prizes.


Unknown to the anglers during the Classic, there was quite a battle going on between the eventual second and third place winners. It came down to a fight for tenths of an inch.

In second place was Josh Maitland, who scored three reds measuring 20”, 22.1”, and 24.1” for a total of 66.2”. He caught his reds on Live Target Lures, all on top or just an inch or two below the surface. Maitland has come on strong this year, although he fished the Classic while feeling quite ill. We congratulate you, Josh, and hope you feel better soon.


Third place was captured by Kyle Staton using gold spoons, the old standby, to fool three reds and score a total of 66.1”. Now that’s close and very good competition. The Coast Guardsman had another great day on the water doing what he likes best… catching redfish. Congratulations, Kyle, and thanks for keeping it real.

Michael Julian captured fourth place with three redfish and a 58.5” using topwater lures and jerk baits. Michael is another angler to keep an eye on next year, as he has greatly improved his game and is always in the hunt. Great job, Michael, and congratulations from all of the ClassicS Sponsors for such a great series year.

Newcomer Stewart Thomas showed everyone that was serious about his first ever Classic. He landed fifth place with two redfish measuring 24.8” & 27.7”for 52.5”. Stewart, who we are told is usually calm by character, was very excited about his first Classic. He picked a great one, considering all the top anglers were trying to outdo one other. Congratulations for a great showing, Stewart, from all of us and our great sponsors who make this all possible. See you next year for sure.

Now to the news about the Gulf Series Championship - and it was a dilly! Throughout the series year there were any number of top Gulf Coast anglers in contention, and once again the championship came down to the last Classic of the year. It really was just a matter of a few inches separating the top leaders going into the final, but was largely between Chuck Statham and Joe Komyati.

As you may recall, Joe Komyati kicked the door in at the 10,000 Islands Classic this year using only his newly-acquired Yo-Zuri Lure Sashimi baits. That victory propelled Joe toward the top, and it was ‘game on’ from there on out. Komyati was having great success for two weeks of pre-fishing, landing some huge reds. He mixed up his lure selection during that session to see what was working best. As the Fishing Gods would have it, everything changed rapidly with rains just before the event, and all contestants were in “start over” mode on tournament day. We congratulate Joe for a great series year. We know you had a good game plan, but I guess it just wasn’t your day. Next year, friend!

Chuck Statham spent some time pre-fishing and what he learned was also washed away for tournament day. Statham seems to always be able to find fish. Blindfold him, spin him around a few times, turn him loose, and he’ll catch fish. If you ever competed against Chuck, you know what we mean.

As you know, Statham had a fantastic day with 84”. This gave him 356.5” for the five-tournament series, and earned him first place in the Gulf Coast series division. This paid off in a new Diablo Paddlesports “Amigo” kayak and a boat full of sponsor gear prizes. Just to round off any edges, Statham also won the Angler of the Year Award for the Gulf Series. Now that’s a great day and great series year for a true champion and great angler. Congratulations, Chuck, from all of us here at the Kayak Fishing ClassicS, Diablo Paddlesports, and all of our very generous sponsors.


Joe Komyati finished out the series year with 297.3” and took second place overall. Congratulations, Joe -too bad that big one got away. Michael Julian scored 225.5” for third place - a great year for him as well. Josh Maitland finished in fourth place with a 196.7”, and William Lusk scored 150.0” and captured fifth place in the overall standings.

We congratulate and thank all of our contestants, Diablo Paddlesports, and all of our amazing sponsors whom we invite you to visit through our website. Next up is the East Coast Series divisional series championship on October 5, 2013, at the Indian River Lagoon area. It is sure to be very interesting as well. After that, it’s off to the Mosquito Lagoon for our national championship on November 16, 2013, presented by Old Town Canoes & Kayaks and KC Kayaks. See you there! www.KayakFishingClassicS.com

Last modified on Tuesday, 17 September 2013 20:49

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