September 17, 2015
Tony Lai, of Seminole, Florida, measured a combined limit of 48.25 inches to win the final regular-season event for the Florida West Division of the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour presented by Hobie Fishing on Sept. 13 at Ruskin, Florida. The angler won a total of $3,450, including a Power-Pole Micro Anchor for his first-place finish.
After a front blew through the area on Saturday, the kayak angler faced rainy conditions during the competition. Without an opportunity to pre-fish, Lai leaned on his past experiences and looked to his trusty fishing log to get on quality fish.
"I keep a log so I can get an idea of where to go," said Lai. "There's lots of local knowledge in those pages."
Lai is a busy angler, fishing as many tournaments as possible. He also doesn't mind fishing in the rain, so the wet and windy day of competition was not a struggle for him.
"It doesn't matter what the conditions are," said Lai. "I always pick a spot out of the wind or at least with the wind at my back so I can make long casts."
Lai worked top-water baits over mullet and edges of the flats for both his redfish and trout.
"I found what I thought was a sandbar, but it turned out to be a large school of redfish," said Lai. "I casted in and immediately hooked up. I think I could have done better but the plan turned out good and produced the right fish."
Second-place finisher Justin Ritchey, of Ocoee, Florida, measured a combined 47.00 inches and won $1,270 in cash. The angler fished in the Pineland, Florida area, looking for tails and working potholes. Ritchey caught his limit with paddle tails and jerk baits.
Three-year IFA Kayak Tour veteran Kasey Arrowsmith, of Apollo Beach, Florida, added a third-place finish to a long list of top-three tour finishes, including a win at Ruskin in 2013. Arrowsmith reported rain and a low tide during the day of competition.
The angler fished Berkley Gulp! and suspended twitchbaits in the Ft. DeSoto area located 10 miles from the weigh in site.
"I'm excited to be on the podium again," Arrowsmith said.
The next stop for the IFA Kayak Tour is Sept. 27 at Fernandina, Florida. Anglers who enter a minimum of two events and compete in at least one event will be qualified for the 2015 IFA Kayak Tour championship.
IFA Kayak Tour - Florida West Division
Ruskin, Fla. (Top 10)
Tony Lai - 48.25 inches
Justin Ritchey - 47.00 inches
Kasey Arrowsmith - 43.13 inches
Derek Engle - 43.13 inches
Ty Nelson - 41.25 inches
Jerry Burdine - 40.75 inches
Luke Matthews - 40.63 inches
Russell Jacobs - 37.38 inches
Olin Satterfield - 37.00 inches
Michael Lahn - 34.75 inches