Fishing in approximately three feet of water, out of a Pelican Catch 120 kayak, with a Penn 3500 rod and reel combo, using Power Pro line and a spinner bait, James Aldridge from Dunnellon, Fl brought in a 30" redfish to win the Longest Redfish (red drum) category.
2nd place redfish winner Darren Hudman, from Inglis Fl, landed a 29.5" redfish on top of an oyster bar in 3' of water with a top water lure.
Jon-Michael Drawdy from Homosassa, Fl finished out the category with a 29" redfish caught in 18" water with a live shrimp.
Austin Milligan, from Bartow, Fl, took home the 1st Place trophy for longest seatrout.
Fishing in 4' of water out of a West Marine kayak with a Shimano Teramar rod and Penn Clash reel, Miligan caught the winning 19.75" trout on 30lb green PowerPro line with a 30lb fluorocarbon leader using an artificial shrimp bait.
In the same depth water Neil Brontager, from Bartow, Fl pulled in the 2nd place 19" seatrout on a 4" Berkley Gulp! Nuclear Chicken Saltwater Mud Minnow.
The tie breaker for the same length fish is the time checked in. Following Brontager by 5 minutes David Durrance, from Gainesville, Fl took 3rd place with a 19" seatrout pulled in with a soft plastic lure.
The Grand Slam is the combined length of one redfish and one trout. Both species must be entered to win. Yankeetown resident Mark Osborne won the Grand Slam with the combined 40" length of a 22" redfish and an 18" seatrout.
Mixed Bag is the combined length of up to three species of game fish excluding 1st place winning fish in the other categories. Gary Rankel, from Citrus Hills, Fl, started his 1st place winning mixed bag with a 35.75" snook - the longest snook he's caught in ten years. He finished it out with a 17.25" ladyfish and a 15.75" seatrout for a total combined length of 67.75".
Wayne Brunsink, Homosassa, Fl locked in 2nd place Mixed Bag with a trio of redfish, spanish mackerel and ladyfish with a combined total length of 51".
Wendall Hood, from Pace, Fl, placed third with a combined spanish mackerel, seatrout and ladyfish length of 49.5".
In addition to trophies, 1st place winners received a cash prize and a custom made fishing rod.
Fishing the tournament alongside her father and receiving the most applause of any winning angler at the awards ceremony, Miss Kieley Bateman won the Jr. Angler category with a 22.5" redfish.
Photo above: 2017 Nature Coast Challenge Winners (l to r) Gary Rankel-Mixed Bag, James Aldridge-1st Place Redfish, Austin Milligan- 1st Place Trout, Mark Osborne-GrandSlam
"Without sponsors the tournament would not be possible", said club president DonnaNorton. "This year's sponsors were Nick Nicholas Ford Lincoln, Nature Coast Inn, Young Boats, Gibson's Tree Service, Reel N Tensions-Lexington S.C., Rust-oleum, Rural King, Ed French Painting, River Coast Realty, Tony's Clam Chowder, NorChill Coolers, D.O.A. Lures, Hawkeye Fish Finders, Norcross Marine, Cowboy Outdoors, Egret Baits, Vodu Baits, Wedgetail, Dan's Clam Stand, Riversport Kayaks, Aardvark Kayaks, Citrus County Chronicle, HardisonInk, The Newcaster and the Levy County Visitors Bureau. Thanks to these sponsors, every participant left the tournament with a tournament shirt and one or more sponsor give-aways."
Hosted by the Inglis Yankeetown Lions Club, net proceeds from the tournament are used for charitable endeavours of the Inglis Yankeetown Lions Club which address eyesight, diabetes prevention, youth programs and more! Mark your calendars now for the 7th Annual Nature Coast Challenge which will be held in April 2018.