Mike McDonald, of Sarasota, Fla., measured a combined limit of 56.00 inches to win the first regular-season event for the Florida West Division of the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour presented by Hobie Fishing at Punta Gorda, Fla., on March 9.
This is McDonald's third win in his four years fishing the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour. The angler threw Berkley Gulp! into potholes in the Tidy Island area.
"The bite was slow with a slow incoming tide but I saw tons of fish," said McDonald. "I was really lucky. I only had a 13.5-inch trout until I caught a 25-inch trout at the end of the day."
The angler won a total of $2,375 including the $1,500 first-place prize, the $100 Berkley Gulp! Big Fish award for his 31-inch redfish, $425 in Anglers Advantage cash and the $250 Hobie Top Angler award for having the highest placed finish for an angler competing out of a Hobie kayak.
Rusty Driver, of Sarasota, Fla., won the $1,000 second-place prize for his combined 52.50 inches. Having fished the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour for three years and two top-ten finishes, the angler reported a slow bite but with lots of fish in sight all day.
In his first ever IFA Kayak event, Ty Nelson, of North Fort Myers, Fla., took home the $500 third-place prize along with an additional $255 in Anglers Advantage cash.
"The weather was beautiful," said Nelson. "The wind settled down right around mid-morning, which slowed down the bite but the sunny skies were prime for sight fishing."
The angler threw top-water and plastic baits in the Pine Island area.
"I did well, but not quite as good as I could have," said Nelson. "I aimed for fifty inches and ended up with 50.5 inches. I call that a successful day."
Ninth-place finisher Bryan Hunt won the $100 Berkley Gulp! Big Trout award for his 25.13-inch trout while Micha Mixon took home the $100 Jr. Angler award.
The fastest-growing kayak fishing tournament trail in the country, the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing events are catch-photograph-release tournaments, offering inshore kayak anglers from a multitude of states the opportunity to participate in competitive fishing tournaments with low entry fees and minimal travel requirements.
For more information or to become a member of the IFA, visit www.ifatours.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 these well-respected brands: Hobie Fishing, Ranger Boats, Cabela's, Lucas Oil, Yamaha Outboards, RAM, Berkley Gulp!, Berkley Gulp! Alive!, PENN Reels, Spiderwire, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Power-Pole, Amphibia, Arctic Ice, Protect the Harvest, General Tire, Bob's Machine Shop, Blue Point Fabrication, SuperClean, Progressive, Mustang, iON, Valley Fashions, Powertex Group and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Charlotte Harbor Visitor and Convention Bureau.
IFA Kayak Tour
Punta Gorda, Fla. (Top 10)
1. Mike McDonald – 56.00 inches
2. Rusty Driver – 52.50 inches
3. Ty Nelson – 50.50 inches
4. Ross Gallagher – 49.75 inches
5. Andrew Dowgialo – 49.50 inches
6. Brian Nelli – 49.25 inches
7. David Bruce– 48.50 inches
8. Kasey Arrowsmith – 48.40 inches
9. Bryan Hunt – 48.25 inches
10. John Lee – 48.15 inches