Gulf Coast Opens with Old Tampa Bay Classic

Chuck Statham with first place prize.

The Kayak Fishing ClassicS held the Old Tampa Bay Classic, the Gulf Coast Division opener on January 9. The event was sponsor and angler rich with a fantastic turnout of some of the best anglers from around the Gulf Coastal States and Canada. The Old Tampa Bay Classic was hosted by long time friend and sponsor Whiskey Joes Bar & Grill in Tampa.

The weather was perfect to begin the 2013 series, the fourth year of the Kayak Fishing ClassicS tournament series. New for 2013 is the formation of the East Coast Division and both divisions will feature five tournament events each, to be followed by the invitational national championship in November as it has been in the past. The 2013 National Championship will be held at the world famous Mosquito Lagoon in celebration of the newly formed East divisional series.

Anglers enjoyed calm seas as they launched their kayaks onto Old Tampa Bay witnessed by a beautiful rising sun which turned the bay into a magic, watery field of gold. All the contestants were anxious to paddle to their favorite spots in search of the winning combination of three warrior class redfish. There are no bonus points for 2013 so the anglers must rely upon only the combined total length of their catch. This has made the catch & release series even more competitive and the anglers all like it like that.

Klosicki holding up a stud 33-inch redfish.

In First Place using D.O.A. Lures was past champion Chuck Statham who entered a three fish total length of 69.7 inches. Chuck was happy to accept his share of the $10,000.00 sponsor gear package awarded at each of the ClassicS events. We were all happy to see Chuck return to the ClassicS and do so well. Congratulations Chuck and see you at the tournament in March.

Brian Arnold of Team Canada captured Second Place with a very good showing of three redfish entered for a total of 66 inches, all on D.O.A. Lures. This is the best finish for Arnold in the series and he was overwhelmed by all of the sponsor prizes. “I have watched the top anglers awarded all of sponsor prizes but it really doesn’t hit you until you are the one receiving all of the great gear” said Arnold “It really is fantastic!” We are glad you liked it Brian and Congratulations from all of our sponsors.

Third Place was taken by the angler that nearly won it all last year. Joe Komyati really made things interesting for us all in 2012 and brought the series championship down to the last tournament. Joe started this series year off with a three redfish slam measuring a total of 64.6 inches and caught them on Z Man Shrimp for his third place podium. Well done Joe and congratulations, we know we will be seeing more of this angler.

USF Student & Reel Knights member, Travis Strammer worked his Sebile stick shad to catch 62.8 inches total with three redfish. Very nice Travis and congratulations to you.

Fourth Place was captured by Atthapol Wongesprasert with three redfish and a total of 61 inches, all caught on D.O.A. Lures. This was the first Classic for Atthapol and we and all of our sponsors congratulate him as do we all of our contestants.

Rick Klosicki landed the biggest redfish of the event, a dandy 33 1/10 Inch fatty that was his only fish of the day but what a nice one. Nice job Rick. Next up for the ClassicS is the East Coast opener, the Mosquito Lagoon Redfish Classic scheduled February 9. See you there!