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Wednesday, 12 May 2010 02:00

Kayak fisherman sweeps tourney

Written by John Ceballos
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RIVERVIEW - Chuck Statham and his kayak recently swept the Ruskin-SouthShore Chamber's Grand Slam fishing tournament.

The April 24 catch-and-release event gave out prizes to the anglers who caught the biggest snook, redfish and trout, as well as a Grand Slam prize for the biggest catch out of those three types of fish.

Statham, the only kayak fisherman at the event, took the top spot in each category.

Although kayak fishing has its advantages — including easier maneuverability and access to more out-of-the-way spots — Statham's reasons for using the smaller vessel are more practical.

"I'm not the stablest person in the world to be standing on boat with my prosthetic leg," he said.

Statham, 40, wears an above-the-knee left prosthetic leg. It's the result of an accident more than 20 years ago.

"Aug. 22, 1989," he said. "A drunk driver hit me when I was on my motorcycle."

He had grown up playing baseball, basketball, soccer and other sports. Eventually, he found a way to channel all that competitive energy.

Statham, who presently works as a draftsman for Transportation Control Systems, ran a side business making decals about nine years ago. He went on a fishing trip with a man who owned a charter fishing business and was interested in enlisting his services.

"When we were out, I saw a guy fishing from a kayak and I thought to myself, 'I can do that,' " said Statham, who has lived in the Riverview area most of his life.

Despite never fishing regularly until he was in his 30s and despite not entering a tournament until about three years ago, Statham's exploits have earned him acclaim in the paddle fishing community.

"They have forums (on paddle-fishing.com) devoted to this guy," said Jose Chavez, a friend and fellow fisherman. "He's like the Chuck Norris of fishing."

Chris Ravelo, another one of his paddle fishing colleagues credits Statham's singular determination.

"He has really good instincts and a tremendous drive," Ravelo said. "Where I might make 500 casts, Chuck will make 1,200."

These days, Statham fishes five to six times a week. It's even become somewhat of a family activity.

"My oldest boy Noah is 9 and is now able to paddle his own kayak," said Statham, who has been married to his wife Latrell for 11 years. "My youngest boy Caleb is 6 and he sits in the kayak with me."

In addition to the Grand Slam events, Statham recently won a series of tournaments organized by O'Brien's Pub in Brandon. He is interested in finding a sponsor, though he's unsure of how to go about it.

"It would just feel way too weird to walk up to potential sponsors and say something like, 'Hey, I'm really good — would you like to sponsor me?' " Statham said.

"He's a great fisherman, but the best thing about him is how modest he is about it," Ravelo said.

Originally posted in South shore News & Tribune and resposted with permission from John Ceballos

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 17:11

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