Poor conditions thinned the fleet of anglers on the Easter Holiday weekend, but the top anglers were undaunted by the threatening clouds. Conditions improved throughout the day - with exception of the wind. Oh, yes, our old friend always manages to invite himself to the event each year to spread the joy and teach the art of sideways fishing.
The contestants launched at 6:30am and headed to their “Plan B” fishing areas. All had plans C and D ready, just in case conditions got ugly. The fishing was tough, but several anglers figured it out and the bite was definitely on. Some big fish got away from experienced and rookie kayak anglers. It seems that aggravation plays no favorites, which just compounded a tough day of having fun.
Robert Brown won an Ohero rod a few tournaments back in the series, and he hasn’t put it down. This is from a guy that has many, many top-quality fishing rods. There just seems to be something about that rod that everyone really likes. The ones who know seem to make that their first selection from the sponsor tables full of prizes for the Top Ten at each Classic. Here’s a breakdown of who did what and what the winners caught. Unfortunately, there were several anglers who didn’t get their mojo working, and the time of sign in for weigh in rule went into play.
First Place - Robert Brown caught four fish: two reds and two trout for his entry. They measured 15.9” & 23.9” for his reds and 21.9” and 23” for trout, totaling 83.9”. All were caught on D.O.A. Lures soft plastics and of course the Ohero rod. Congratulations, Robert, from all of us here at the ClassicS and from all of our sponsors - outstanding!
Second Place - Drew Mixon also figured out where the fish were and how to entice them to chew. He scored a 15.5” and 15.9” pair of reds, plus 18.7” and 19” trout, for his four-fish total of 69.1”. Mixon used a mix of lures and soft plastics to fool his catches. Congratulations, Drew, on a well-earned second-place finish. We know it wasn’t easy for anyone.
3rd Place - William Lusk seems to also be on a roll this year, as we see him often on the winners’ podium. Lusk also scored four fish for a great total of 62.3”. Lusk scored a redfish measuring 29.5” for the tournament’s biggest fish, and two trout measuring 15.7” and 17.1”. Lusk caught all his fish on topwater walking lures… spooky, isn’t it? Lusk had two large redfish get away from him as he made ready to net them. They may have been game changers for him, but that’s fishing. Great job and congratulations, William, from all of our sponsors.
Fourth Place - Tom Baker, a member of the USF fishing team, landed a 28.6” redfish and a 17.9” trout on topwater lures for 46.5”. Baker also lost a couple of nice fish as the wind kicked the kayaks around and the waves heaved them up and down. That can make landing a powerful fish difficult and a bit tricky. Congratulations, Tom, from all of us and all of our sponsors.
Fifth Place - David Durrance made the trip from Gainesville to capture fifth place in his first-ever tournament. Congratulations, and welcome to the ClassicS. David just could not track down a redfish, but scored 18.6” and 19.6” trout. Durrance used D.O.A. Lures shrimp to hook up 38.2” of trout of fish. Nice job, and we will see you in the Cockroach Bay Classic next month.
Sixth Place - Otis Coblentz had a few nice redfish and a huge trout come unbuttoned, but managed to score 16.6” and 17” a 33.6” total. Coblentz used a combination of Live Target shrimp, Yo-Zuri shrimp and MirrOlure “MirrOdine” lures to get the job done. Coblentz is another angler who is coming on strong. His disappointing 2013 campaign included fantastic catches during pre-fishing, only to be followed by ghost town conditions on tournament day. It appears that he has put it all together this year, and we all wish him the best. Congratulations, Otis, from all our sponsors.
Seventh Place - Eric Van Gorder landed a 15.6” trout, and he was all smiles about it. In Ozello, there are many different kinds of places for fish to hide, and figuring out what kind of hiding place is popular “today” can be tricky at best. Van Gorder figured it out at the end, but time was against him. We know you’ll get them next time, Eric, and congratulations from all of us and our sponsors.
Eighth Place - Garry McLearen had a day he would like to forget. After catching a nice redfish and while reaching behind him, our good friend Mr. Wind blew his aluminum measuring board out of the kayak. All he could do was watch it sink, along with his hopes for the day. After releasing the red, McLearen checked in with the TD and made the paddle back to the launch, where he was greeted with an encouraging smile and a new official measuring tape. That issue pretty much let the wind out of his sails for the day, understandably. This is all new to McLearen, and we are sure that he will leash his measuring board in the future.
Ninth Place - John Baker had a fun day fishing with his son, but just did not get into fish. You can’t feel too bad about that, considering the conditions. After you fish a few times in tough conditions, most anglers figure it out and start catching fish. Landing them or measuring them may be another story. Thanks, John, and see you at the Cockroach Bay Classic.
Tenth Place - James Foy loves to fish the Ozello Classic and has done quite well there over the years. I guess you were just due, James, and we all know it happens. We will see you at the Cockroach Bay Classic on May 24.
All the contestants had a great time and really enjoyed the new awards format. Everyone got some great sponsor gear prizes, saw some old friends, and warmed up with a great meal at Pecks Old Port Cove. We wish to thank all of our contestants, all of our fantastic sponsors, and of course Pecks for hosting the event. See you at the next one.