The Kayak Fishing ClassicS held the 4th annual Ozello Classic on September 7 hosted by Pecks Old Port Cove Restaurant, the famous local eatery. The Ozello Classic was the 5th and final Gulf Coast divisional tournament and series championship. Chuck Statham won 1st place in the 3 redfish event and captured the Gulf Series Divisional Championship while he was at it. First let’s look at the winning order for the tournament and then the Top Five winning order for the series.
The weather is always a consideration on the Gulf of Mexico and seems to play a considerable role on just about every tournament day. September 7 was an exception as the rising sun greeted all anglers with a spectacular show…the old saying of ‘Red sky in morning sailors take warning’ did not come into play. In fact, it could not have been any better as the contestants were given their permits and launched promptly at 6:00 O’clock a.m. There was a slight breeze of around 4 kts and the inshore waters stayed calm to mild chop all day…perfect.
The Kayak Fishing ClassicS Tournament Series permits artificial baits/lures only and all fish are photographed while on the official measuring tape then revived and released. All collected data at photo weigh in is shared with various marine research organizations throughout the year.
Chuck Statham landed over a dozen redfish and recorded 3 reds for a total of 84” all on D.O.A. shrimp and top water baits. Chuck continued to upgrade his total throughout the day, after his first 3 fish, by using the famous D.O. A. Lures. Chucks fished measured 26”, 28.5” and 29.5” for his 84” total. An outstanding job as the huge reds were nowhere to be found on tournament day, unlike the pre-fishing days that recorded some true denizens of the flats. There had been a torrential downpour the night before the event as through the week and that sometimes will push off some fish. We congratulate Chuck on his victory and know he will enjoy his share of the $10,000 of Sponsor Gear Prizes.
Unknown to the anglers during the Classic, there was quite a battle going on between the eventual 2nd and 3rd place winners. It came down to a fight for tenths of an inch as you will read below;
In 2nd place was Josh Maitland who scored 3 reds measuring: 20”, 22.1” and a 24.1” for a total of 66.2” of fighting fury on Live Target Lures, all on top or just an inch or two below the surface. Maitland has come on strong this year although he fished the Classic while feeling quite ill. We congratulate you Josh and hope you feel better soon.
3rd place was captured by Kyle Staton who used gold spoons, the old standby to fool 3 reds and score a total of 66.1” just to make it interesting. Now that’s close and very good competition. The Coast Guardsman had another great day on the water doing what he likes best…catching redfish. Congratulations Kyle and thanks for keeping it real.
Michael Julian captured and controlled 4th place with 3 redfish and a total score of 58.5” using top water lures and jerk baits. Julian is another angler to keep an eye on next year as he has greatly improved his game and is always in the hunt. Great job Michael and congratulations from all of the ClassicS Sponsors for such a great series year.
New comer Stewart Thomas showed everyone that was serious about his first ever Classic by landed 5th place by scoring a total catch of 52.5” and 2 redfish measuring 24.8” & 27.7”. Stewart, whom we are told is usually calm by character, was very excited about his first Classic and he picked a great one considering all of the top anglers were trying to outdo each other. Congratulations Stewart in a great showing from all of us and our great sponsors who make this all possible. See you next year for sure.
Now to the news about the Gulf Series Championship and it was a dilly! Throughout the series year there were any number of top Gulf Coast anglers in contention and once again the championship came down to the last Classic of the year. It really was just a matter of a few inches separating the top leaders going into the final but was largely between Chuck Statham and Joe Komyati.
As you may recall Joe Komyati kicked the door in at the 10,000 Islands Classic this year using only his newly acquired Yo-Zuri Lure Sashimi baits. That victory propelled Joe toward the top and it was ‘game on’ from there on out. Komyati was having great success for two weeks of pre-fishing and landing some huge reds. He of course mixed up his lure selection during that session to see what was working best. Well as the Fishing Gods would have it, everything changed rapidly with rains just before the event and all contestants were in start over mode on tournament day. We congratulate Joe for a great series year. We know you had a good game plan but I guess it just wasn’t your day. Next year friend!
Chuck Statham spent some time pre-fishing and what he learned was all washed away as well for tournament day. Statham seems to always be able to find fish. Blind fold him, spin him around a few times, turn him lose and he’ll catch fish. If you ever competed against Chuck you know what we mean.
As you know Statham had a fantastic day and he scored 84” which gave him a total of 356.5” of fish for the 5 tournament series and earned him 1st place in the Gulf Coast series division, a new Diablo Amigo kayak by Diablo Paddlesports and a kayak full of sponsor gear prizes. Just to round off any edges, Statham also won the Angler of the Year Award for the Gulf Series. Now that’s a great day and great series year for a true champion and a great angler.
Congratulations Chuck from all of us here at the Kayak Fishing ClassicS, Diablo Paddlesports and all of our very generous sponsors.
Joe Komyati finished out the series year with a total of 297.3” of fish and took 2nd place overall. Congratulations Joe, too bad that big one got away. Michael Julian scored a series total of 225.5” for 3rd place concluding a great year for him as well. Josh Maitland finished the series in 4th place with a total of 196.7” and William Lusk scored a series total of 150.0” and captured 5th place in the overall standings.
We congratulate and thank all of our contestants, Diablo Paddlesports and all of our amazing sponsors who we invite you to visit on our website. Next up is the East Coast Series divisional series championship on October 5th at the Indian River Lagoon area. It is sure to be very, very interesting as well. After that, it’s off to the Mosquito Lagoon for our national championship presented by Old Town Canoes & Kayaks and KC Kayaks on November 16th. See you there and thanks for reading. www.KayakFishingClassicS.com