UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Wylie

Too much of a good thing

Too much of a good thing
Florida anglers Blair Wiggins and Travis Tanner head for the morning checkout as the sun rises over Venice Marina.

VENICE, La. - Goldilocks would understand the challenges facing anglers in the Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series Western Division tournament at Venice Marina. It's simply a case of eliminating the "too smalls" and the "too bigs" and finding a couple of delta reds that are "just right."

At the opening weigh-in, many reported wearing out their arms with small to midsize reds or wincing when a big fish measured a half-inch over the 27-inch slot limit. Experienced tournament anglers can Dodging afternoon thunderstorms will be a big concern for Redfish Series anglers.usually estimate a fish's size, so sight-casting to the larger fish will be the general strategy. However, in areas of lower visibility - the result of muddy water or inclement weather - the luck of the draw determines what anglers reel to the boat.

The common misconception about the fertile Mississippi Delta is that you can catch big redfish anywhere you cast. True, the abundance of habitat and forage make this the nation's top redfish destination, but the key is knowing where the larger fish reside. Reds typically group by size, so catching two 5-pounders back to back will prompt tournament competitors to look elsewhere.

Boats with towers or elevated casting platforms afford anglers the benefit of scanning the water and ideally spotting redfish before they spook. Anglers in boats lacking such rigging often carry step ladders.

Elevated vantage points are helping anglers spot redfish at a distance. Those without towers or casting platforms often carry ladders.After the first round of competition, the 10th-place team has 15 pounds, 11 ounces, and 16 pounds is the top-five cutoff. Given these numbers, most agreed that anglers will need to catch fish averaging about 8 to 8 1/2 pounds to remain competitive. Easier said than done, but Sal Fontana, who along with Tony Grose finished fourth with 16-4, said that plenty of opportunity exists.

"If you don't catch at least 8-pound fish, you'll be in the back of the pack," Fontana said. "There are a lot of 8-pound fish out there, and if they decide to eat, a lot of people will catch them."

Consistent performers, Ray Chagnard and Edward Adams, both of Metairie, La., were disappointed in their 14-10 total, but Chagnard said he intends to make up some ground on day two: "We're going to have to step it up (today) and swing for the fences. There were a lot of boats in the area we were fishing, so we're going to have to do something different."

A plague of day one that will likely resurface on day two is the threat of afternoon storms. Thunderheads loom on the horizon and keep anglers guessing as to when and where they may unleash their fury of wind, rain and lightning. Thursday saw blinding showers and frightening flashes, Keeping a variety of spinnerbaits handy will help fishermen adapt to various situational needs.driving anglers out of fishing spots and limiting their access to others.

Day-one leaders Steve Snopek of New Braunfels, Texas, and Trey Hallmark of San Antonio, Texas, weathered the storms and hauled in a solid two-fish limit weighing 17 pounds, 1 ounce. They found that the bigger redfish were pushing deep into the hydrilla beds choking backwater ponds and sloughs about 60 miles northeast of Delacroix.

Snopek and Hallmark caught most of their fish on spinnerbaits - a popular choice for delta redfishing. Noise, flash and vibration give this bait an arsenal of attraction that tempts redfish in a variety of scenarios. The key, however, is having the right bait for the right scenario.

Belton, Texas, angler Danny Coppin left the dock with three different spinnerbaits rigged on his main rods. One bore a single Colorado blade, another had a single willow blade, while a third sported double willows. Each has its particular use.

Tournament competitors pause for the national anthem before checkout."The bigger spinnerbait with the willow-leaf blade allows me to make long casts and rapid casts so I can power-fish down a bank," Coppin said. "The one with the single Colorado blade is lighter and that's for sight-fishing, because you don't want to throw a heavy bait right on the fish. The double willow leaf spinnerbait is for fishing over grass."

No doubt, many teams will be searching far and wide for the sweet spots, but local guide Anthony Randazzo (third place with Bill Wallbaum, 16-7) cautions competitors to keep an eye on the skies.

"There are a lot of variables that you have to contend with when making long runs, and the storms like the one we had (yesterday) are a big consideration," he said. "Those storms have just started building in the last week. We had a dry spell, but now the storms are building every day.

"Sometimes it's at daybreak; other times it's in the afternoon. So wherever you go, you need to monitor the weather to make sure you don't have trouble getting back with your fish."

Logistics

All teams will compete during the first two days, and the top five teams based on accumulated weight advance to day three. Final standings are determined by the total weight from all three days.

On Saturday, the top five teams will launch from Myrtle Grove Marina, located a 161 Marina Lane in Port Christine and Troy Perez came all the way from FloridaSulfur. Friday's weigh-ins will be held at Venice Marina located at 237 Sports Marina Road in Venice beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday's weigh-ins start at 4 p.m. at the Wal-Mart store located at 1501 Manhattan Blvd. in Harvey, La. Take-offs and weigh-ins are free, and the community is invited to attend the festivities.

The Venice FLW Redfish Series event is hosted by Venice Marina.

The top award of $50,000 includes $20,000 cash plus a $15,000 cash bonus from Ranger Boats and a $15,000 cash bonus from Yamaha or Evinrude if contingency guidelines are met.

The top 50 teams in each division of the 2008 FLW Redfish Series, based on Land O'Lakes Team of the Year points standings at the end of the season, will advance to the $300,000 Wal-Mart FLW Redfish Series Championship Oct. 30-Nov. 1 in Biloxi, Miss. The winning team at the championship will earn as much as $100,000.

Friday's conditions

Sunrise: 5:58 a.m.
Temperature at takeoff: 80
Expected high temperature: 85
Water temperature: 76
Wind: SE at 10 mph
Humidity: 70
Day's outlook: partly sunny early, scattered thunderstorms

Tags: david-a-brown  morning-story  2008-06-12-venice 

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