Using a spinnerbait to boat his 31-inch redfish early in the tournament, Walker was able to locate several large trout later in the day. His 31-inch redfish, the largest measured in the tournament, won him the $100 Berkley Gulp! Big Redfish Award. For the win, Walker took home a Hobie Mirage Pro-Angler Kayak valued at $2,499, plus an additional $244 in Anglers Advantage cash. By winning the tournament while fishing out of his Hobie Mirage Pro-Angler Kayak, which he bought prior to the event, Walker also won $200 from Hobie.
Second-place finisher, Chris Holmes, of Chalmette, La., measured a 26.75-inch redfish and 19.25-inch trout for a total length measurement of 46 inches to secure the $1,000 second-place prize and an additional $119 in Anglers Advantage cash.
Fishing around the Hopedale, La., area, Holmes lost a big fish early in the tournament day, but rebounded with a impressive trout and a 26.75-inch redfish in the final minutes of the tournament.
"My first fish of the day cut me off, broke the line on some rocks. I don't know what it was but it was big," Holmes said. "I caught about a dozen trout but could find any redfish bigger than 17.25 inches. So I went to my bull red spot and stayed until I caught my big one."
Third-place finisher, Steve Lessard, of Baton Rouge, won $500 prize money plus $112 in Anglers Advantage cash with a combined length measurement of 44.5 inches. Fishing points in dirty water using Berkley Gulp! and popping corks, Lessard found most of his fish holding close to shoreline.
"I kept looking for the cleanest water I could find," Lessard said. "But the area about five or six feet off the bank really seemed to be key for the trout."
Todd Hart, who finished 12th in the Empire event, took home the $100 Berkley Gulp! Big Trout Award, which brought him an additional $100 Cabela's gift card, courtesy of Berkley.
Each of the Cabela's IFA Redfish Tour 18 regular-season events will commence on Saturday with the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing contested the following day (Sundays). In its second season, the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie will feature 18 regular-season, catch-photograph-release events across six different division (mirroring the IFA Redfish Tour format, location and scheduling) as well as extremely lucrative payouts and expanded fishing opportunities for non-motorized fishing crafts.
The redfish/trout tournament will pay twenty places (based on a 100-boat field) plus Big Redfish, Big Trout and Junior Angler Awards. The winner will take home a Hobie Mirage Pro-Angler valued at $2,499, 2nd place prize will be a $1,000 and 3rd place $500 Hobie cash. New for 2011, kayak anglers can take advantage of the Angler's Advantage program. Anglers who participate in the program can pay an additional $25 entry fee, which is paid back at 100 percent to participants, based on place of finish. Lucrative contingency programs added for 2011 include $50 prize to the team claiming the big fish award in an IFA Redfish Tour event if the fish is landed with an EGO Net, $25 prize for both the big redfish and big trout in IFA Kayak Fishing Tour events; a PENN reel for tournament-winning angler who competes with PENN reel.
The IFA Redfish and IFA Kayak Fishing Tours continues to draw redfish anglers from Texas to the Carolinas and beyond, offering anglers the opportunity to compete in six different divisions, each offering a three-event regular season. Low entry fees for the one-day, regular-season tournaments allows anglers to fish close to home and minimize expenses, while still being a part of a premier inshore, catch-and-release redfish tournament organization. Teams fishing any three of the IFA's 18 regular-season events are automatically qualified for a no-entry-fee championship event, pitting qualifiers from each of the six divisions for money and prize packages, as well as a shot at the coveted Overall Divisional Team of the Year Award for the six regular-season division winners.
For more information or to become a member of the IFA, the fastest-growing inshore fishing tournament series in the United States, go online to www.redfishtour.com or www.ifakayakfishingtour.com. To discover more about kayaking and Hobie Fishing go to www.hobiefishing.com.
IFA Louisiana Division
Empire, La. (Top 10)
1. Norman Walker - 49.25 inches
2. Chris Holmes - 46.00 inches
3. Steve Lessard - 44.50 inches
4. Brendan Bayard - 44.00 inches
5. Jeff Maher - 44.00 inches
6. Landon Walker - 43.50 inches
7. Benton Parrott - 40.50 inches
8. Steve Neece - 34.75 inches
9. Jason Powers - 28.50 inches
10. Barrett Jones - 27.50 inches
$100 Berkley Gulp! Big Redfish Award:
Norman Walker (31.00 inches)
$100 Berkley Gulp! Big Trout Award + $100 Cabela's gift card:
Todd Hart (20.375 inches)