Anglers gathered for the 2012 DOA Paddler's Tournament

Before I could blink an eye, this year’s D.O.A. paddlers’ tournament came and went, and what another close finish! Any day is a good day to fish, but when you have one of your best days on tournament day, you really can’t get any better. Tournament anglers had to catch and photograph a legal size seatrout, redfish and snook. Overslot redfish and snook could also be measured, but undersize fish could not be counted toward the tournament total.

My total count for the day ended up being two slams (snook, redfish, trout-twice), and my first super slam (snook, redfish, trout, and flounder), along with more trout, a few ladyfish and one big bluefish. I guess my arms should be soar from just that, but factor in a few miles paddling and I was one pooped angler. Thanks to some Bono’s BBQ back at River Palm Cottages, I was able to fuel up and finally relax a bit.

This overslot red made my day, slurping up a 425 shrimp. Thanks to Settles Bridge Supply House for getting me a "big" net in time to land this beauty.

Quick pic of an underslot snook, just minutes after the red.

Tournament Explained

The day started ominous, most anglers knowing they had to get on the fish early. Every weather report we looked at said it was going to start thundershowers around 10 am at 80 percent. 10:30 am came and the skies were grey, but still no rain! 12:00 came, no rain! It did turn out to be a great day to be on the water, minus a little wind. I couldn’t have asked a better day for the weatherman to be wrong, again.

At the D.O.A. event, they level the playing field by giving everyone the same amount, color, and types of lures in a tackle box. My preferred colors of the day due to the water clarity kept switching between the 425 watermelon and the 440 morning glory. I’m usually not one to use the shrimp due to the slow pace in which the lure is typically presented, but the water depth and amount of grass we were in seemed like a perfect match.

My first few throws with it resulted in a flounder that was glad to make it a meal. It started to get my confidence up a bit using it. About a half dozen more casts near some mangroves resulted in a good pop on my line. Unfortunately, not from a fish, the bump in my line was from the shrimp flying up in the mangroves, without seeing the line and getting stuck.  Kind of funny…I tried then to remove the shrimp by snapping it out of the snagged branch, it then rocketed out of the tree, skipped on the water once, and pelted me right in the bulls-eye of my shorts.

Paddled a ways for this decent turn-in trout.

Time to eat some Bono's and listen to the results.

Bob Gallot won his choice of kayaks and went with the Hobie Pro Angler. Chuck Statham took 2nd and Jeff Harrell with 3rd. Logan Narcowich took the Junior category and Chip Gibson won the raffle for a new Ocean Kayak.

My teammate Danny couldn’t stop laughing because it was such a funny mess up, and he had a front-row view to watch the whole thing unfold. Now I don’t know if it was good luck hitting my man spot, or whatever you may call it, but my next throw just inches from the same mangrove that captured my shrimp, resulted in a beautiful over slot redfish that put up quite a great fight. Praising God for a quality first fish on the board, yelling and pointing to the sky, got my blood quickly pumping and “amped” me up to start catching my next species.

Mark gave me a quick tour of the DOA facility while picking up the prize for 4th place.

Still going with the good luck shrimp, a few skips later under some mangroves added a decent snook to the board. While battling him and dealing with his numerous acrobatic jumps in the air, I was hoping he would be a sleeper 28 inch fish, but sadly fell short.

Knowing we needed some sizeable trout, we made a good paddle out to a pretty flat where there was a couple anglers drifting and also anchored up. Almost instantly Danny hooked into a feisty trout and then again a few casts later. After working a nice shortline and seeing some snook pop on some bait without a hit, I decided to drift some deeper water and search out some holes that were showing under parting clouds. Upon finding a few promising locations, I anchored up and started working my jig over the areas.  Casts brought up a decent 19-inch trout and a slot redfish I didn’t even measure (because my first one of the day had it already clearly beat).

Weigh-In Time

Making our way to the weigh-in at 3:00 pm, hearing the other anglers not reporting much, I started to get my hopes up. Long story short, I’m actually getting ready to hear my name for 3rd place. My catches were hopefully going to win me a new kayak! The third-place name gets called, and I actually thought my name had changed for a brief moment. After hearing the tally for the two biggest fish, I knew I was just short for another year. I learned the hard way (again) that you must hook a nice snook to win this event (last year I also turned in a slam with the snook being short).

Turns out, I get a call Monday from owner of DOA, Mark Nichols, that I had in fact won fourth place and a new Ocean Kayak! I guess there was a slight mix-up on the number of prizes and there was a spare kayak laying around, so like last year, a fourth place was awarded.

Always a Great Time

It was great to make some new friends at the tournament. You always make “friends” on Facebook but who actually knows them all?! The whole process of the DOA Tournament is smooth and relaxing while the food is always tasty and satisfying. If you haven’t done it yet, try it out next year, I’m sure you’ll have a great time.

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