LIZELLA, Ga. – Lee Smith, of Niceville, Fla., caught a redfish and speckled sea trout that measured a combined 61.75 inches in length to win the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing event on March 27 in Destin, Fla. The event, which operated out of Legendary Marina, was the regular-season opener for the IFA Kayak Tour's Gulf Division.
Utilizing crankbaits and swimbaits, Smith had an active day on the water, catching fish in a pair of locations on his way to the tournament win. With the win, Smith took home a Hobie Mirage Pro-Angler Kayak valued at $2,399, plus an additional $200 in Hobie Cash for winning the event while competing out of his Hobie Revolution. He completed his lucrative day on the water by adding $210 in Anglers Advantage winnings.
"I started off with a 21-inch trout right there in the bay within the first five minutes," Smith said. "Then I switched spots to a place about a 30-minute drive away. I paddled for a little while and caught 10 big redfish and stayed there until I was tired of catching them."
Second-place finisher, Chandler Graves, measured a 43.25-inch redfish and a 17.50-inch trout for a total length measurement of 60.75 inches to secure the $1,000 second-place prize. Graves' redfish, the largest measured during the tournament, won the first-time IFA competitor the Berkley Gulp! Big Redfish Award, for which he was awarded $100 cash and a $100 Cabela's gift card from Berkley.
"I had a nice, calm morning, but it started out rough and I couldn't find a big trout," Graves said. "I caught my big redfish then finally found my trout. I caught four fish all day using Berkley Gulp! baits."
Third-place finisher, Timothy Walker, won $500 with a combined length measurement of 60.63 inches.
Earl Poole, who finished in 10th place, took him the Berkley Gulp! Big Trout Award for his 25.50-inch trout, the largest measured during the event. The award paid Poole $100 cash. Micah Mixon won the $100 Junior Angler Award with a 15.75-inch trout.
Each of the Cabela's IFA Redfish Tour 18 regular-season events will commence on Saturday with the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing contested the following day (Sundays). In its second season, the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie will feature 18 regular-season, catch-photograph-release events across six different division (mirroring the IFA Redfish Tour format, location and scheduling) as well as extremely lucrative payouts and expanded fishing opportunities for non-motorized fishing crafts.
The redfish/trout tournament will pay twenty places (based on a 100-boat field) plus Big Redfish, Big Trout and Junior Angler Awards. The winner will take home a Hobie Mirage Pro-Angler valued at $2,399, 2nd place prize will be a $1,000 Hobie cash and 3rd place $500 Hobie cash. New for 2011, kayak anglers can take advantage of the Angler's Advantage program. Anglers who participate in the program can pay an additional $25 entry fee, which is paid back at 100 percent to participants, based on place of finish. Lucrative contingency programs added for 2011 include $50 prize to the team claiming the big fish award in an IFA Redfish Tour event if the fish is landed with an EGO Net, $25 prize for both the big redfish and big trout in IFA Kayak Tour events; a PENN reel for tournament-winning angler who competes with PENN reel.
The IFA Redfish and IFA Kayak Tours continues to draw redfish anglers from Texas to the Carolinas and beyond, offering anglers the opportunity to compete in six different divisions, each offering a three-event regular season. Low entry fees for the one-day, regular-season tournaments allows anglers to fish close to home and minimize expenses, while still being a part of a premier inshore, catch-and-release redfish tournament organization. Teams fishing any three of the IFA's 18 regular-season events are automatically qualified for a no-entry-fee championship event, pitting qualifiers from each of the six divisions for money and prize packages, as well as a shot at the coveted Overall Divisional Team of the Year Award for the six regular-season division winners.
For more information or to become a member of the IFA, the fastest-growing inshore fishing tournament series in the United States, go online to www.redfishtour.com or www.ifakayakfishingtour.com. To discover more about kayaking and Hobie Fishing go to www.hobiefishing.com.
IFA events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of the fishing industry's most respected brands: Ranger Boats, Hobie Fishing, Cabela's, Gulp!, Gulp! Alive, PENN reels, Yamaha Outboards, Columbia Sportswear, Minn Kota, Humminbird, OPTIMA Batteries, Power-Pole, Wrap This, Blue Point Fabrication, EGO Nets, Spiderwire, Sebile, Bob's Machine Shop, 321fish.com, Kayak Angler Magazine, Loadmaster, Powertex Group, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, and Legendary Marine.
IFA Gulf Division
Destin, Fla. (Top 10)
$100 Berkley Gulp! Big Redfish Award + $100 Cabela's gift card:
Chandler Graves (43.25 inches)
$100 Berkley Gulp! Big Trout Award:
Earl Poole (25.50 inches)
$100 Junior Angler Prize:
Micha Mixon (15.75-inch trout)