The popular annual paddlers’ tournament does not disappoint.
A total of 56.5 inches was all it took for angler Jean McElroy to take first place in the annual D.O.A. Paddlers Event held each year on the Treasure Coast. A 27.5-inch seatrout and 29-inch snook were the two winning fish that put her over the top, and made her the new owner of an Ocean Kayak. This is the second year in a row a woman angler has won this tournament. The top four places won a kayak, as well as a lucky raffle winner.
Fishing was tough for most anglers who set out to catch the longest seatrout, redfish and snook. Anglers had to fish from a kayak, canoe or other paddle craft using only D.O.A. Lures handed out at the captains’ meeting. (Each angler was given close to $50 worth of lures to use.) On the water, anglers photographed their catch and most anglers then released their catches. Scoring took place at River Palms Cottages in Jensen Beach later in the day.
“We expected something close to 90 inches to win the tournament this year,” explained Jerry McBride, of D.O.A. Lures. Jerry had pre-fished some of the tournament areas the week before and saw good numbers of large trout and redfish. On tournament day, none of the participants were able to catch and photograph all three species—a legal-size seatrout, redfish and snook.
Legal snook catches were the least represented, followed by redfish catches. Trout were the most common catch. There’s never a shortage of seatrout in the Indian River Lagoon. Last year’s freezing weather had effects that were plainly obvious to this year’s tournament anglers. In past years, snook and seatrout were the easy catches, and redfish was often the odd fish out.
“The snook were around,” said angler Jason Baumiller, a canoe fisherman who finished in the top 10. “I measured a 25-inch and 26-inch snook (which were just under the legal limit) and missed a larger snook right in front of me.” Jason only turned in his seatrout and redfish measurements, because both those fish measured above the legal minimum length.
The number of entries to the event is capped at 100 participants each year, though 23 overflow anglers were allowed to join this year during a late entry period. Anglers were allowed to fish in three counties along the Treasure Coast—Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin.
“I was so close,” said Mark Naumovitz, who finished in 5th place. “I could have been in the top-4 with a new kayak if I hadn’t broken off a monster red, and would have won if my snook was 2 inches longer. I’ll definitely be back next year.”
1st place: Jean McElroy, 27.5 trout, 29 snook, 56.5 inches
2nd place: Chuck Statham, 29.5 trout, 26.5 redfish, 56 inches
3rd place: Shawn Beltz, 20 red, 31 snook, 51 inches
4th place: Sharon Magwood, 23 trout, 27.5 red, 50.5 inches
Under 12: Kaci Wilkinson, 18-inch trout, 18 inches
12-16: Derek Narcowich, 33.5 snook, 15.5 trout, 49 inches
Raffle drawing winner: Ken Taylor