UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Shaw-VanDemark crush field en route to Redfish Series title

Shaw-VanDemark crush field en route to Redfish Series title
The team of Tadd Vandemark (second from left) and Kevin Shaw (second from right) took first place at the 2007 Wal-Mart Redfish Series event at Port Aransas. Also pictured are Vandemark's wife, Liz (left) and Shaw's girlfriend, Barbara Vanmeter (right) - who both assisted in the display of tournament hardware.

PORT ARANSAS, Texas - While the majority of Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series teams struggled in the finals with a variety of equipment failures, boater congestion and difficulties finding the key bite, the team of Kevin Shaw and Tadd VanDemark were having nothing short of a career day.

After stumbling upon two nice schools of redfish during Friday's competition, with the help of the most fortuitous set of circumstances, Shaw and Vandermark did their utmost to fully capitalize on their big break during the most important day of the competition to date. Returning to the location that served them so well during Friday's action, the duo ran into the tournament-fishing equivalent of a gold mine.

"Today we moved up to the wake, and we suddenly saw about 1,000 schooling redfish," said Kevin Shaw of Corpus Christi, Texas. "It was just unbelievable. The whole lake was red. (VanDemark) looked at me and said, `Is that a bunch of grass?' I said, `No, I think it's redfish.'"

With the modern-day version of the Red Sea literally in front of them, the duo wasted little time parting with their lures. As fast as they could cast, VanDemark and Shaw targeted as many redfish as their tired arms would allow.

"We broke two fish off right away, but somewhere after 9:30 a.m., we had our limit," said Shaw. "We wound up being done by 12:30, but that was only because one of our livewell pumps broke, and we didn't want to risk staying out on the water any longer. In the end, we wound up culling four fish, none smaller than 7 1/2 pounds."

For redfish angling fans in the know, a 7 1/2-pound fish is usually a no-brainer keeper fish when dealing with a slot limit ranging from 20 to 28 inches. So, to throw four fish of that size back into the water, during the finals of a $200,000 tournament no less, is nothing short of remarkable.

"On the first day we caught four fish, yesterday we caught seven, and today we just banged them," said VanDemark, duly acknowledging his team's banner day on the water. "We just caught great fish today. At one point in the day, I looked over at (Shaw) and said, 'The smartest thing we did all tournament was when we quit fishing yesterday at 11 a.m. and left our fish alone for today.'"

Clearly, that was the difference. In the end, VanDemark and Shaw recorded the only 17-pound stringer of the entire tournament, bringing their three-day weight total to 48 pounds, 1 ounce - a full 4 pounds heavier than their next closest competitor.

Ironically, VandDemark, from Key Largo, Fla., and Shaw had no intention of playing the sight-fishing game at Port Aransas. However, after a routine check of a pool of baitfish during Friday's competition, the duo stumbled upon the first school of redfish they'd seen all week. In a manner of minutes, the two decided to abandon their long-casting techniques and switch to a sight-casting pattern. Then, after landing a healthy 14-pound, 9-ounce stringer, they decided to lay off their quarry and save it for the finals.

"We didn't think we'd be sight-casting at all during this tournament," said Shaw, whose team used a combination of DOA Cal Series baits and Cajun Thunder gold spoons to land the majority of their catch. "It was one of the last things on our minds. But it just goes to show you that you have to be versatile out here."

Obviously, the change in tactics paid big dividends, including a $50,000 check for first place.

"To be here, with all of my friends, it's just an unexplainable feeling right now," said Shaw, who also took home an FLW Redfish Series title at the Port Aransas event in 2005. "Hopefully, we'll stay on a roll."

Team Castrol leapfrogs into second place

Team Castrol members Clark Jordan and Chief Tauzin, both of Pearland, Texas, finished the Port Aransas Redfish Series event in second place.After an 11th-place finish during the first day of competition, the team of Chief Tauzin and Clark Jordan continued to move up the leaderboard with each passing day, capturing fourth place overall heading into the finals and finishing the event in the runner-up position.

So, while victory would have been sweet, the members of Team Castrol said they were proud of their accomplishments nonetheless.

"It's a little heartbreaking," said Tauzin, whose team ultimately landed a total three-day catch weighing 44 pounds. "We knew we'd scare some people with our weight today, but I really didn't think we're going to move up as far as we did. Once you're onstage, your heart can't help but skip a few beats because you get so excited. But it's been a great week, we had a lot of fun, and we beat out 94 other teams. If I was going to lose to someone, I don't mind losing to (Shaw-VanDemark)."

According to Tauzin, the team relied heavily on Berkley Gulp Shrimp and 1/2-ounce Johnson silver spoons to land the majority of their catch. In the end, the team also walked away with nearly $6,750 in prize money.

Holeman-Young fall to third

Heading into today's competition, the team of Travis Holeman and Peter Young really thought they had a chance to walk away with the title. Trailing by only 9 ounces heading into the finals, the team wound up suffering a series of heartbreaks and equipment problems that more than likely doomed any chance they had to finish on top.

"We made the big show, our fish were there, but we had a series of great misfortunes today," said Young, who, along with his partner, hails from Luling, La. "We lost five fish today because of broken hooks, and one of those was in the 7 1/2- to 8-pound range. And in these types of events, with the caliber of the competition, you need to have your A game. It was a hard day of fishing, just very frustrating."

Although Young admitted that they probably wouldn't have had enough weight - even if everything went perfectly - to beat Vandermark and Shaw, it was little consolation for the team.

"You know what, we're thrilled and delighted to be here in the finals, but our performance today wasn't up to our own expectations," said Young, whose team relied on sight-fishing techniques with H&H gold spoons throughout the three-day event. "If we had come back with 15 pounds and still finished in fifth place, we would've been OK with that. But you have to capitalize on your opportunities, and today we just didn't do that. And that's what is most disappointing."

Ultimately, the team of Young and Holeman recorded a three-day catch weighing 42 pounds, 14 ounces and walked away with over $4,000 in prize money.

Best of the rest

Scott Isbell and Danny Adams bring their fish to the scales. The team ultimately finished in fourth place at Port Aransas.Fourth place belonged to the team of Danny Adams of and Scott Isbell, both of Rockport, Texas. However, a variety of headaches due to local boat traffic and finicky bites unfortunately belonged to them as well.

"We're fishing a little, itty-bitty hole, maybe 100 yards by 50 yards, and we sat there for about four hours and didn't move," said Adams. "There was a lot of local boat traffic in our area, and we even had a bird watcher. The bottom of our (spot) got muddied up, and it was difficult for us. But we wound up getting two good bites, and we're very fortunate to land those in the boat. So, overall, you can't really complain. That's about as good as we're going to do in that spot."

The team finished the tournament in fourth place with a total catch of 42 pounds, 14 ounces (but lost the heaviest one-day weight tiebreaker to the team of Holeman and Young, who claimed third).

Blake Pizzolato and Dwayne Eschete finished the FLW Redfish Series Port Aransas event in fifth place.Rounding out the top five team finalists were Blake Pizzolato of Montgomery, Texas, and Dwayne Eschete of Mandeville, La. The duo, sponsored by M&Ms, recorded a three-day limit of 37 pounds, 7 ounces.

Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series Eastern Division action resumes at Fernandina Beach, Fla., May 31 through June 2; Redfish Series Western Division action picks up again June 28-30 at Cocodrie, La.

Tags: gary-mortenson  headline-story  2007-05-10-port-aransas 

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