Ken Chambers Blog

Oct. 20, 2008
Mediocre 13th place
46th ... 22nd ... seventh ... sixth ... That was the order of finishes we had during the season this year. We felt like going into the championship, the stars were aligning for a win in Biloxi.

But not so fast, said the fishing gods. A mediocre 13th place. Not even sniffing the monster redfish the top-five teams were catching.

To be honest, after laying an egg at the first event in Punta Gorda, we were more concerned with not having to re-qualify for 2009 than winning the championship this year.

(Teams that made the top 35 are automatically qualified for next year; we were 15th.)

I will definitely be looking forward to see how the invitational pans out. Over 50 teams, all fighting for a chance to be a part of the Redfish Cup in 2009.

Word is that some teams have been scouting the area daily for about a month. Plus there are many talented local teams that can use their knowledge to home in those heavy Louisiana reds.

The competition was fierce this season. I would like to think that we were fishing against the top teams in the nation. However, I know that the qualifier will bring a host of talent into the fold for next season. Plenty of new faces to the Redfish Cup are going to make us step up our game or get left behind.

Good luck to all the teams fishing in Buras.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

August 22, 2008
Hopedale Heroics
Regardless of where you finish in the standings, it's always fun to go redfishing down on the Louisiana bayou. It really is a special place with incredible fishing and good people.

We wound up turning in a seventh-place finish in the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup event in Hopedale from August 15-17. We were glad to earn a decent check and valuable points towards the Academy Team of the Year presented by Crocs title. The top 20 teams earn a trip to the championship and the top 35 are exempt from having to qualify for next season. We are now sitting in 23rd place and considering we face-planted in the season opener, we will take it.

Louisiana is the Mecca of redfishing. A tournament in the Pelican State is not decided by who catches upper slot fish — everyone catches those — it's won by the team who lands the heaviest. I have never really performed well at this venue until this year and it seems that we finally have begun to figure it out. Finding the fresh water, the heavy redfish, and getting away from pressure from other anglers are the keys to success.

At the Hopedale event, we primarily worked a couple flats that featured deep troughs running through the middle. The fish would use the troughs to travel, working their way into the thick grass beds to feed on crabs and mullet. We sight-fished redfish coming on and off those flats but all of our heaviest fish came out of the deeper water. We only needed to use gold spoons and the simplicity of these lures make it an all-time favorite of mine.

Typically, Louisiana marsh fish have a reputation for eating anything that is thrown to them. And when I say anything, I mean everything — spoons, plastics, shoelaces, and bare hooks included.

But this year, the fishing experiences proved to be different. We were a little stunned to find fish that would spook from any bait and how some showed signs they will not accept a limitless amount of fishing pressure. Hopefully, this is not a trend that will continue.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

June 17, 2008

Port Arthur

Finishing just outside the money stinks.

Port Arthur is in the books… that was a long haul to come home without a check.

Good job by all the top teams especially Manny and Paul.

It was a decent week of catching fish for us—lots of fish that weighed between 3-5 pounds but very few heavier ones. Seemed like each day during practice, we caught one or two good fish but there was no rhyme or reason to it. We never found a super successful pattern in the marsh. Rather than just trashing all of our practice areas and fish the jetties, we stuck to it hoping to pull a rabbit out of our hat.

Note to self: Don't be that stupid next time!

The jetties were the place to be. It is funny how there was not much going on there during the practice week but then they came alive during the tournament. Next time I am in Port Arthur, I will camp out along the jetties.

I enjoyed the Frito Lay Pro-Am on Sunday. I was asked to take out some store managers for a local grocery chain. They were a couple of real good guys from the Port Arthur area who loved to fish. The format was for 5 boats to go out and catch two redfish to weigh in. As we are boarding the boat, my anglers tell me they don't care too much for redfish but would rather have a nice bag of trout to take home for dinner. Huh?? One of the guys fished the local waters for trout and redfish most of his life and I let him show me around. We caught a few trout and several redfish and had a great time.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

April 29, 2008

Punta Gorda

The first event of the season is in the books and congratulations goes out to Andrew Bostick and Mark Sepe for winning wire-to-wire. They were on some stud fish and sealed the deal on Sunday.

Our tournament went about as poorly as it could. I cannot remember being less prepared before any tournament I have ever fished. All week, we were catching fish but we never put together any pattern that seemed to be better than another. Frustrating is an understatement. I never feel super confident in Punta Gorda because I really don't fish that area much. The fish are spooky and successfully working the schooling fish is an art form that I don't have much practice with. Our lack of knowledge of fishing these schools really cost us this time.

On Friday, fishing was difficult with a wind change that sent our fish to other areas. Around 11 a.m., I had just cast to a fish with a serious case of Pine Island lockjaw. Then luckily we saw a redfish tailing right next to the boat. I cannot lie; we acted like little kids on Christmas when I swung that 19-incher in the boat.

We decided to just go fishing on Saturday and have some fun. Forget about the plans made before the event. Well, that just never worked out. We hopped from spot to spot and the pressure seemed to mount.

Right after the tournament I felt pretty defeated. The redfish got the better of us and we are better than we showed. The next tournament is a month away. Can't wait to get back on the water in Port Arthur and get back in the game.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

April 10, 2008

It's showtime

When the first event for the Redfish Cup season was announced for late April, I remember thinking that it would seem like forever until it got there.

Now it is about two weeks away. Just like my college final exams, I find myself cramming to get all the details ironed out before it is showtime.

Boat, motor, trailer, rods, reels, baits. They all need to be ready to go before we leave. Plus, you can't forget the net, measuring board, scale, etc.

Pack some clothes. Take care of all the things around the house. Spend as much time with wife and kids as possible.

Stare at charts; look over notes from past tournaments. The tedious stuff takes up so much more time than the actual fishing — you have to be passionate about tournament fishing to do it.

We got our new Pathfinder XL rigged out with a Yamaha 225HP four-stroke: It is a super sweet bay boat that fishes like a skiff, with the ride of a much bigger boat.

We have been working with our sponsors on getting the artwork approved for a boat wrap. When you are working with corporate sponsors, there are layers of approval needed for the final product. These companies pay handily to promote fishing teams and want to make sure that their brand is displayed properly. It takes lots of calls and emails but in the end, as long as the sponsors are happy, it is worth the work.

With only four scheduled events and a season-ending championship, the pressure is on to produce at each venue.

Some are close, but some are a long drive away. It won't matter if you are fishing your home waters or not, the competition will be tight — even though you're up against 53 teams, as each has a chance to go home the winner.

John and I spent months wishing the season would start. Ready or not, here it comes.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

March 8, 2008

Classic kudos

Congratulations to Alton Jones for winning the biggest fishing tournament in all the land.
I really enjoyed the coverage provided by ESPN Outdoors on the 2008 Bassmaster Classic. Being able to be glued to the laptop and watch things unfold live was a neat feature. Enjoyed the updates throughout the day. Keeping fans in the loop with who is doing what and who is moving up. The show definitely had me wanting to say "logged on" to watch the action.

The live internet feed came off looking great. My high speed connection came across pretty clear. Felt like I was in the arena.

While watching it, my mind wandered into the redfish tournament world realm. Our events are the young sibling to the Bassmaster events. I have no idea how much the Redfish Cup can grow. I doubt anyone is expecting growth to the scale of professional bass fishing but the possibilities are exciting.

Technology is a tool that will speed up the growing pains. We already have the Hooked Up live broadcasts on the web. Internet stories are coming from a number of tournament related sites faster than ever. The content becomes more current therefore more interesting.

Again, good job by Alton Jones. Nice work by ESPNoutdoors.com. Looking forward to seeing what the Redfish Cup can do in 2008. The season is only 7 weeks away.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

February 17, 2008

The three kinds of boat buyers

I just finished working a local boat show for my Maverick dealer, Trapper Custom Marine. The guys asked me to come down to the show to support them and assist with customer questions. I enjoy going and meeting new people and talking about the product with the guys who sell them everyday.

What I found fascinating was the unchoreographed dance of the boat show attendee. These folks could be separated into categories. The tire kickers, the interviewers, and the don't askers.

Tire kickers come in all shapes and sizes. All ages and genders. They want to ooh and aah at the beautiful new Pathfinder bay boats and Maverick skiffs. These people can see themselves running and fishing from the boats. They really are not interested in too much small talk from the sales person. Just give them their five minutes to dream about catching the big one. But their biggest issue is the spouse looking over the shoulder. When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

Interviewers are more serious about purchasing the product. They want to know what you think of every aspect of the boat. Do you like the ride? Does the boat go super shallow? How fast? Do you need that do-hicky on the back? (Sir...it is a Power Pole and yes it is essential) This guy needs to be connected with a sales person as soon as possible.

The "don't askers" are most interesting of all. You know the type because we all are or have been "don't askers" at some point. They walk through wanting to look but not be approached. Eye contact is their worst enemy. If you catch their eye then they are required to respond to your introduction. There is nothing wrong with just wanting to look but it is funny how people can be frightened by someone walking towards them on a boat lot.

The Miami Boat Show is this week. This is the granddaddy of all boat shows. Tons of boats and marine related products and services to purchase or just admire. It is an event not just a show. I will be in the Yamaha and Maverick booths on Friday and Saturday. Stop by and say hello. Might even be kicking some tires myself.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

January 17, 2008

Bass fishing's better with age

I have always been a saltwater fisherman. Grew up on the water.

I can count on my hands the number of times I have fished for bass. I could also count the number of bass I have caught on two hands. This is not saying much.

I enjoy watching BASS events on television and I read Bassmaster magazine regularly. I just never have caught any real numbers of the little green fish. And I never caught one that would even make a scale bounce.

I went bass fishing with Buzz and Kevin Merritt along Alligator Alley today. The alley is the local name for Interstate 75 between Naples and Miami. Countless alligators can be found along the canals on each side of the highway. Sorry to state the obvious there, but you never know.

Kevin and his dad, Buzz, could possibly win any father/son one liner competition. They made me want to pee all day with their back-and-forth banter.

They also know their bass fishing. Frankly, Buzz carries more plastic baits than Bass Pro Shops. He has every color in the spectrum and then some. Colors like Mud Puppy, Blond Pony, and Carolina Gravy; weird, I know.

And don't me started on all of Kevin's tricked-out tackle. These guys can out tinker a NASA engineer.

When we pulled off the interstate at a random canal and backed the boat into the dirt launching ramp, I was questioning my choice.

Then we started casting just minutes from the ramp and immediately began whacking the fish. Not any monster fish. There was no big tournament sack of fish caught today, but by the end of the trip we counted about 50 bass caught. All were caught on soft plastics.

The spunk of these fish was impressive. They would thump the fluttering baits and put on an aerial display once hooked. No drag pullers but each one plenty of fun.

When I was growing up, my buddies would brag about catching a 5-pound bass. They would hoot and holler. I would always answer their boasts by telling them that I use 5-pound mullet to catch monster snook off the Marco Island Bridge.

I could not figure out the draw of catching bass in my younger days, but I'm glad that I went today. I could have easily snubbed my nose but I would have missed the big time with the bass.

I'm looking forward to my next bass trip. It won't be too far off.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

January 3, 2008

Fishing Pine Island Sound

I had a chance to fish Pine Island Sound recently. It is only about 50 miles from my house but I just don't get up there as much as I would like. Pine Island Sound is known as a place with super spooky fish. There are large numbers of fishing guides and recreational anglers who fish the water every day.

The gin clear grass flats are home to many forms of sea life. Drifting over the grass flats allows an aquarium-like view of all types of sea life. Minnows, shrimp, crabs, sponges, anemones and more call these flats home. Redfish have no shortage of forage in the flats of Pine Island Sound.

Last Friday morning, the redfish were tailing like mad in the rising tide. They were doing headstands trying to root shrimp and crabs out of the turtle grass. We had to drag our jerk baits over their heads and just let it fall. They could smell the Lunker Sauce attractant we added and would strike

We caught fish in different sizes but noticed that they all were heavy for their length. There was a plethora of bait moving around on the flats and I am sure that had plenty to do with it.

Mullet were everywhere on the flats. In fact, when we lost site of the tailing redfish, we just poled over to the massive mullet schools and soon the tails were spotted again.

We were able to chase those tails throughout most of the incoming tide. Once the tide came all the way in, I poled some mangrove shorelines and caught several quality snook on chartreuse flies. It made for a great day on the water.

Back home in the 10,000 Islands the water is stained and rarely clears. Looking forward to getting back to the crystal flats of Pine Island Sound real soon. Maybe I will see you out there.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

November 21, 2007

An angler gives thanks

Turkey Day is right around the corner. Time to reflect on the blessings we all have.

My son, Carson, was asked by his preschool teacher to write down what he was thankful for.

Mommy, Daddy, Chelsey, our cat Cleo, his toys and his grandparents were his answers.

I was thinking about everything I have to be thankful for. Family. Friends. Health. Freedom. Also, I am thankful to my Dad for taking me fishing when I was a kid.

For me, fishing has become a way of life. I am extremely lucky to turn my passion into my career. My joys, aspirations, income, successes and failures are connected to fishing. And that is the just the way I want it.

I really enjoy taking fathers and sons on charters. Seeing the fun and fellowship between a father and his child puts a smile on my face. Most parents understand that time spent outdoors with your family is a special time to bond and take in some the environment.

Unfortunately, I charter a few dads who are consumed with what they are doing and expect me to baby-sit their kids. Part of my job for certain, but I stress to them the importance of ensuring positive experiences in the outdoors for youngsters.

Be thankful for many things but make sure you pass on the outdoors to all the youngsters that you can. I know they will thank you for it.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and take a kid fishing,

— Capt. Ken Chambers

November 8, 2007

The Road Ahead

The Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup has announced changes for 2008, the biggest being a limited field with higher payouts. The divisional format is gone and the entire roster of teams will fish each event across several states, making this season as competitive as ever.

Punta Gorda will host the first event in late April. The other events will be held in May, August, September and October. Those venues were not disclosed, but should be made public in a few weeks.

This season, the field will be chewing up the miles as we travel from Florida to Texas — and possibly up the Atlantic Coast.

Traveling to the tournaments is part of the game, though it isn't the part that is televised or written about. However, anyone that has ever towed a boat realizes it is a critical part of going fishing: especially when you are driving hundreds of miles.

I have had my adventures with trailering. Anyone who has traveled as many miles as I have has likely also had their share of problems. If they say they haven't, well, they are lying. It just comes with the territory.

I live in Naples, Fla., not exactly in the heart of tournament redfish country, which gives me the wonderful pleasure of tacking on several hundred extra miles to many of the venues.
I keep a list of towing services and trailer repair centers handy in my truck. Another plus to all my driving is that I can almost quote the exit numbers for several small towns along I-75 and I-10. Call it nerdy, but during these drives you need something to stay awake.

Also, I am going to be publishing my first book soon, "An Angler's Guide to the Cleanest Rest Stops in the U.S." I should know — I have stopped at all of them.

Fortunately, I am blessed a metabolism that allows me to handle the typical tournament angler's traveling diet: fast food burgers and plenty of Mountain Dew. When I return home from a tournament, it takes me a week to quit shaking from all the caffeine.

Trailering doesn't seem like fun, but with the Dolphins' season in shambles, it might be something worth practicing on the weekends. Look for me at a gas station near you.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

October 15, 2007

Cold comfort

Making the top five in a Redfish Cup tournament is always special. It is hard to do and something to be proud of. In my previous top fives, I was just happy to be there.

This was different — we came to win this tournament. We could taste the title.

(The cash is not too shabby either: 60 large can go a long way for a tournament team.)

The ups and downs on the final Sunday of the Morehead City All Star event were like a roller coaster. After spending the first couple of hours unsuccessfully pounding the marsh with topwater lures, we decided to go to our best creek area. The tide had just started to fall, and we needed the water to be low for the fish to really feed around the oyster bars.

Only problem was when we approached the area, I totally misjudged the oyster bar that bisected the creek we were running in. For several days, the tide was low, and we could see every oyster bar in there.

Not today.

Today it was high enough to hide it. As our boat went hard aground on an oyster bar, my immediate thought was that we were in major trouble. With the tide falling, we had to move quickly.

Fortunately, we were able to get a short tow from another boat. Disaster averted.

Bruised pride, wet feet, mud everywhere. Frustration. Embarrassment. But give up or quit. No way!

We pushed on. Let it go the best we could, and kept fishing.

We grabbed our Quantum Cabo rods rigged with Don's jigs and soft plastic shrimp imitations. We were catching fish by just dragging the jigs along the bottom. The school was getting nervous when the bait was moving aggressively, but they would pounce on it if we moved it slowly.

Fortunately, within minutes, we were able to get a fish in the boat that weighed about 6.75 pounds, helping take a ton of pressure off us. The next cast produced a 4-pounder. Nice. Two fish in the well. Not winning fish but things were going our way. Fifteen minutes later, John stuck a 6.25-pound redfish and we were flying high.

Then we worked the Intracoastal a few more hours, but had nothing to upgrade our catch.

Our weight was enough for second place. You try to be happy about it, but we had winning on our minds.

Congratulations to Friday and Latham for a job well done: They earned the win. All of the teams in the finals were capable of catching that winning bag of fish, but Mike and Danny capitalized on their opportunities.

— Capt. Ken Chambers

September 22, 2007

Championship dreams over

The 2007 Cup Championship has come to an end for us. We wrapped it up in 24th place.

Going in to this tournament, the mindset is all about winning. Unfortunately, we never even sniffed the top.

It was a disappointment for sure. Seemed like we just could not put together a solid pattern.

We found plenty of fish in Panama City, but the weather just spooked us off the run. We had a few plays around Pensacola, but nothing stacked with heavy fish. After only catching 6 1/2 pounds off some docks on Friday, we had to go for broke on Saturday.

The winds switched around to the southeast and the water level seemed higher by about two feet. We headed north into the bay, and soon realized that the water was just too high. We grinded all day hoping to catch a monster sack.

It never happened.

Actually, we had nothing until there was about 30 minutes to go. Then we finally swung a keeper in the boat. We pointed the Maverick south with our tail between our legs, and headed in.

The weather was not ideal, but seems to be improving daily.

I would expect the final five teams to have pretty good days. It should be a tight race. We'll find out at 3pm on Sunday...

September 21, 2007

Off the water

We had a mandatory day off the water today. I thought it would be an easy day with time to spend with the kids and just hang around. Wrong.

Seemed like with all that time, we found tedious things to do on and around the boat. Wash the boat, rig the rods, clean out all garbage, rewash the boat because we got dirt from the parking lot on it. Every other moment was spent studying charts and watching local weathermen play prognosticator with this weather system in the Gulf of Mexico.

As of a couple hours ago, we had zero game plan.

The weather seems to be helping us make up our mind. We will try to maximize fishing time and stay relatively close. We had a play that is two hours away, but it just does not seem prudent, given the winds.

Playing conservative is generally not the way to win — but with these conditions, who knows? The only thing we can control is our effort — which will be 100 percent.

Time to hit the hay.

I have a feeling that tomorrow is going to be a long day. 30 teams. One cup championship.

Looking forward to it. I think...

September 20, 2007

Pensacola practice

Been pounding away on the water all week. We have seen tons of water from Panama City to Mobile Bay. We have spent hundreds of dollars on gas and driven miles and miles. And the result? Caught 4 fish. That is it. A super-weak practice. The worst I can remember. I have tried all methods and locations that worked for me in the past and tried to create things on the go.

It is very frustrating, but the championship is going to start on Friday, whether I like it or not. No time to sulk. Just put the bad practice behind us and just go fishing.

The weather gurus seem to believe that a tropical system will have formed in the Gulf by Friday morning. Uncanny how bad weather follows these tournaments around. If you live in a tournament site for 2008, plan to stay inside when we show up.

Tomorrow we are off the water all day. Time to rest and make any preparations for Friday. And time to tune in to the Weather Channel.

September 10, 2007

Pensacola predictions

Got out of St. Augustine without a total disaster. Most practice days were spent not catching redfish. We whacked them on Monday, but then only caught a couple the next three days.

The night before the tournament, we talked about just not screwing up our chance for the championship. I felt like we could easily blank either or both days there.

The fishing during an event is better than practice, but on game day, the focus always seems sharper. We just wanted to survive the event and maintain our position heading into the championship. Not fishing to win a tournament is a lousy feeling.

There is always a confidence that we can do well. Realistically, any two bites can provide us with a huge bag of fish. However, the reality is that sometimes you just are trying to get two fish and move on.

With the championship held in Pensacola, the possibilities are real that we will have teams fishing in four different states. My guess is that 25 lbs. will make the top five. Those fish can definitely be found in Florida.
Rumor is that several boats are already poking around Louisiana. Crazy, I say! The run will break several boats again just like in the Mid Season Bash. Better tell the service trailers to bring plenty of spare parts.

See you in the Panhandle...

— Ken Chambers

August 30, 2007

Crash landing

We are practicing for the Cup event in St. Augustine and the fishing has been brutal. We are not catching many fish. The tides move 5-6 feet and the fish are really spread out. On the falling tide, action picks up considerably. Add in a full moon and we are looking at a struggle to get a bite. We have heard more crying this week than at a daycare center.

I have landed myself on the injury report for the week. I would be listed as day to day. Tuesday, I poled our Maverick HPX into some skinny water late in the afternoon. The tide fell out like someone pulled a drain plug. All of sudden it was a mad dash to get back off the flat before we spent dinner time waiting on the incoming tide.

I put the push pole in the mud and began shoving the boat forward through the slop. Then the pole found some hard ground and when I leaned on it hard, the foot of the pole slipped and I began to do some type of bird dance by waving my arms trying to maintain my balance.

I pole my skiff for a living so being up 6 feet above the water does not scare me and my balance has always been sharp. But I decided that the safest thing to do was just jump away from the boat and the sharp blades of the propeller below. In the nanosecond that I was in the air, I realized that I was jumping into water about 6 inches deep. Not going to be good.

I somehow managed to land squarely on my feet and I still had a firm hold on the pushpole. I felt a slight pop in my knees and I fell back on my back. I laid there for a second trying to decide if I was hurt or dead. Fortunately, I landed on muddy bottom not oysters or it could have been ugly. Mostly hurt my pride and tweaked my knee.

When John realized I was not writhing in pain he began to chuckle. He told me that since I did not stick the landing, "Mary Lou Retton style", he would have to deduct points from the dismount. Next time, I will just tuck and roll.

If that is the worst thing that happens on this trip, we will do just fine.

— Ken Chambers

August 18, 2007

Going to St. Augustine

I'm preparing for the next event in St. Augustine at the end of August. There's a crazy weekend coming up with the Labor Day holiday — boating traffic is going to be heavy. Heck, getting a hotel room for the week was no bowl of cherries, either. "Sorry, booked solid for the weekend," is the company line amongst reservationists in Northeast Florida. I might have to pick the brain of some bass pros about doing the camping thing next season.

I have never fished the St. Augustine area but fishing in Northeast Florida usually entails fishing creeks and oyster bars near the Intracoastal Waterway. Running the Intracoastal Waterway could become sketchy with all types of skippers running their vessels up and down the waterways during the holiday. I can picture several mega-yachts on the narrow marked channel wreaking havoc on the shorelines and turning the water to a lovely shade of yuck. Chalk it up to part of the challenge.

Tides are such a major factor in catching redfish. Especially in St. Augustine and Jacksonville, where the tide range is generally larger than any other tournament stop. Five foot tides are common in early fall there. From August 31 through September 2, the tides there are going to be higher than any in that area for quite some time. When the tides flood the creeks and marshes, redfish will go in search of food in new places. It's kind of like finally getting a reservation at that swanky restaurant downtown you've been hearing about. It will be nearly impossible to recreate that flooding tide effect before the tournament. When those tides go super high, the fishing could get real tough. It will be important to capitalize on the early morning bite because there's less water for the fish to hide.

I'll be heading up there in a few days, and will have more to say when I get in town — if I can luck into a hotel with a vacancy.

August 5, 2007

Format Changes?

I have heard a few anglers mention that there is a possible format change brewing in redfish tournament circles. These changes always need to be taken with a grain of salt. I have no idea which tours that have considered it or if it ever takes flight but I think it deserves some thought.

The major change would be to go from a team format to a Pro/Amateur format where each pro is paired with an amateur for the day of fishing. This format has been used in bass events for years. This was tried a few years ago by a redfish circuit in Florida. I never entered one of those events but I know that the anglers did not embrace it.

Initially, I thought it was an idea not worth thinking twice about. I mean, redfishing is different than bass fishing. First, one of the most effective ways to catch redfish is to pole the boat in shallow water. Could I depend on an amateur to pole me around in my skiff? Would the amateur expect the same courtesy?

Will my amateur partner stand still and wait for me to make the cast to a perfect fish tailing on an oyster bar? Should I expect them to?

Another major concern is the possession of fish in a livewell. Will we both only have one fish to weigh in? Florida law states the legal limit for possession of redfish is one fish per person. In other states where the limits are higher, could we expect to keep say 3 or 4 fish alive in our livewells all day during the summer? My Maverick HPX skiff has an incredible livewell system but there is a limit to the stress these bronze beauties can handle.

No teammate. Individual glory and failure. Dealing with an angler that may or may not have the experience to fish very shallow water effectively. Or fish very deep for that matter. It has worked for years in the bass fishing world. Will it go over in the salt? Just something to ponder between tournaments...

July 23, 2007

Welcome to my blog

Welcome to my blog. My name is Ken Chambers. This is my attempt at explaining what it is like to compete on the Oh Boy Oberto Redfish Cup series.

We just wrapped up the Mid Season Bash. This was the second All Star event of the 2007 season.

In the three day event, all 30 teams left the launch site on Friday with glass calm conditions that lasted almost all day. We ran over 145 miles one way. We arrived at the fishing grounds with redfish tailing all around. We quickly caught a decent weight and headed back going easy on the throttle.

Completing our 290 mile round trip back to Gulf Shores, I remarked to my partner, John Merriwether, that "today's calm ride was just a tease." I never expected to be right on the money.

Day Two seemed pleasant enough when we got to the launch site. Crossing Mobile Bay was no big deal with only a light chop greeting us. The real changes lie ahead as over half the field ran 50 plus MPH straight toward the Biloxi Marsh.

As we came through the Dauphin Island Bridge on the west side of Mobile Bay, I noticed the chop began to grow and the pounding increased with the waves. The coastal islands off the Gulf Coast provide decent protection during North or South winds. Saturday's wind was neither. Due West at about 15-20 mph.

After 100 minutes of pounding through the rough water, we discussed what to do next. It was very apparent that making it to the ponds in Louisiana and getting back to the weigh-in on time was not likely. Some teams would make it but most would fail to make it back and zero. We decided to give up on our plan and go with the second option: scramble.

By now, the Gulf was a washing machine and we were going through the spin cycle. Around 10 a.m., after almost four hours of a mind numbing, bone jarring run, we made it back to Orange Beach just east of the launch. We fueled up, and hit some local marsh areas. They turned out to be a bust, so with about an hour left in our day we headed over to fish a few docks that I had fished in a previous tournament.

Since the head on the trolling motor was a casualty of the rough seas, John sat down next to the trolling motor and manually turned the stainless shaft, maneuvering us around the dock pilings. My job was to fish hard and make it happen.

Skip my jig as far under the dock as possible. Let it fall, jig it back slowly but with a sense of urgency. Keep constant contact with the line. Retrieve the jig to the boat. Repeat. Over and over again. John tells me it is 2:20pm. 10 minutes left before we would have to head in. With five minutes to go, I stuck a redfish but as he comes near the net we can see the bad news. This guy is under the slot limit. A dinker. Pretty bummed but we were prepared to catch some small guys on the docks so we get over it and continue to pound away as the time dwindles away.

John is backing the boat up to one final dock and lets me know that it is 2:29pm. I said, "Alright, last cast. I never catch one on the last cast." Well, low and behold, a fish crushed the jig as it settled to the bottom. I wrestled him through a maze of dock pilings that seemed to never end. When the mid slot sized redfish swam into the net we felt great that there was going to be a decent ending to a roller coaster day. I suppose if the cameras were rolling I would have given homage to Ike with my best "never give up" yell. Instead, I was just glad the beating was over.

Besides, Charlie Thomason told me he gave it a try on the final day. Stay tuned for that.