JACKSONVILLE, Fla. There were two local teams, both of which are in the top 5, talking backstage at the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup Eastern OPEN event in Jacksonville, Fla., after the weigh-in on Saturday, amazed at what the father-son team of Mike and Michael Frenette were doing.
"That's some tough fishing," said Randy Hartley, a member of the Florida Lure Anglers club and a native of Jacksonville. "You earned those two fish."
The two fish Nobles referenced weighed in at 15.55 pounds for the Frenettes, which is the largest sack of the tournament by over a pound and a half.
There were 74 teams that started the tournament on Thursday, but only the five teams with the heaviest cumulative two-day weights will fish in the final on Sunday.
Along with the Frenettes, who were the top team with 28.86 pounds, the qualifying teams are Ron Schurr and Tim Cutting, of Jacksonville, with 24.44; Andrew Bostick and Mark Sepe, of Marco and Deland, Fla., respectively, with 24.32 pounds; J.D. Nobles and Hartley, of Jacksonville, with 23.44 pounds; and Jeff Pope and Brandon Buckner, of Jacksonville and Ft. Myers Fla., respectively, with 23.3 pounds.
The weights will be zeroed for Sunday's final, and the top weight will win the OPEN title and a $40,000 check. The anglers will be fishing for two fish within the 16-to-27-inch slot limit.
Hailing from Marrero, La., the Frenettes look like fish out of water on a leaderboard full of Floridians, but the style they fish at home is producing Louisiana-type weights.
"We are fishing the rock jetties, and it's a gamble," the older Mike Frenette said. "We only got six bites all day today, and three of them were keepers."
Michael said they like to fish the jetties in Louisiana, so they went to the same types of areas they might catch them at home.
"It's the same game plan, we just have to fish a different style," Michael said. "We've got to slow down and let the bait sink to the bottom, but we're always fighting the current."
Mike said that fighting the current was no easy task, and it doesn't help when they're getting hammered with wind and waves like they were on Saturday.
"It's hard fishing," Mike said, responding to the original assessment made by Hartley about the Frenettes earning their fish. "The waves were hitting the rocks and crashing down on us and you're constantly fighting the current with the trolling motor to position the boat up into the rocks."
Schurr and Cutting made the biggest move of the day, jumping from 14th to 2nd with a 13.97-pound bag.
"We fished the same spot this morning as we did yesterday, but again, we were just catching small fish," Cutting said. "We went to a spot late in the day and Captain Ron [Schurr] was the man. We caught our best fish in the last half hour."
Bostick and Sepe dropped a few pounds on Day Two with 10.79, compared to their Day One catch of 13.53, but it was still enough to squeak them in. The same could not be said of their friends and Day One leaders Scott Guthrie and Rick Murphy, who did not weigh-in a fish on Day Two.
"We went back to the spot where we caught fish yesterday two or three times, but they just weren't there," Murphy said. "Up until the last half hour, we had only seen two fish all day. We saw about 25 fish at the end, but we didn't get a single bite the entire day."
Mike Frenette said he hopes to avoid that same type of falling out, but with the style they are fishing, he admits it's a possibility.
"When you're fishing these areas, you are going to get a lot of oversized fish," he said. "You just have to hope to get the right two bites, and we did that today."