Orange’s Hospitality Earns High Marks
Elite Redfish pros line up for final live well check.
The entire Yellowfin Redfish Elite field had safely returned and Pat Malone was introducing the first angler to weigh in to the crowd of spectators eager to cheer on the visiting pros. A short distance away, John Gothia paused only long enough to exhale, answer his cell phone, glance at his clip board and hand the remainder of his cold drink to anyone that would take it before hurrying off in response to yet another request.
“I am sure this wind gave those guys a fit today,” he noted while wiping a few drops of rain off the lenses of his sunglasses, “but I think this light rain is going to clear out for us pretty quickly.” After months of planning and legwork it was if he was a little miffed that he couldn’t control the weather as well!
The Redfish Elite Series did not just randomly pick Orange, Texas to host their Kickoff Classic.Gothia and most of the same group of folks that made the two previous Bassmaster Elite events so successful were working on attracting other major tournaments before the last major event was even over.
“Our phenomenal redfish fishery certainly required no selling,” pointed out Gothia, “but it was the support of the Orange Chamber of Commerce, the Stark Foundation and area businesses that sealed the deal.The bass pros and their families as well as the production companies were not only overwhelmed by the crowd support, but the genuine hospitality of the community as well.
Clark Jordan of Pearland put a big number on the leader board the opening day and never relinquished that lead on his way to earning $75,000 for a weekend of fishing.In spite of weighing in a three fish limit each day that totaled a whopping 70-pounds, it was still anything but a cakewalk on the way to the winner’s circle.
Jordan idled away from the launch the final morning with little more than a pound separating himself, Kevin Broussard and Dwayne Eschete. He knew that he had only a couple of hours before the wind would make the catching next to impossible and he also knew that he would have to post another limit to win.
Because the average weight of each redfish weighed in was a healthy 7.01 pounds, both Steve Smith and Jimmy Lloyd were in the hunt as well should he return with only two fish.As solid as the leaders programs were, they were all forced to make adjustments early on due to the wind and resulting dirtier water that eliminated sight fishing the shallow marsh lakes.
With Eshete having climbed into the lead and Broussard unable to catch a third redfish, the suspense was mercifully put to rest when Jordan exited his tower boat with a three fish limit that topped the twenty pound mark for the third straight day!
Of the 128 redfish weighed in, only one was not released alive and well.Due to the wind, more than the effects of the untimely flooding, only four pros limited all three days, but most of them found incredible numbers on the calmer practice days.The anglers that chose to fish the jetties also said that they caught and released a number of oversized fish.
In talking with the marshals that rode with the anglers each day, there was a common thread to each report.“They run and gun far more than I expected,” said Tony Viator, “and they catch a number of fish even after they are spooked and moving away.”
The marshals, most of them local anglers very proficient at locating and catching these same redfish year round, signed on hoping to observe new techniques more so than learning any new areas and they weren’t disappointed.“I won’t divulge any specific lures or colors because those guys will be right back down here fishing out of Port Arthur at the end of the month,” said Brad Deslatte, “but I will share two things I learned.
“They can run extremely skinny water at a high rate of speed with their tower boats and, to the pro, they are the nicest guys you could ever hope to fish with.”The marshals fished with a different pro each day and their report was the same in every instance.
The visiting pros repeatedly expressed their appreciation of not only the week long hospitality, but the crowd support at both the morning launches and the weigh-ins as well. It is a good thing when these tournament organizations and their anglers roll out of Orange already looking forward to a return trip!
Hats off and a big thank you to everyone involved in any way with making this initial redfish a huge success.