By J. Dwayne Smith
Team Padrick and Smith
The Redfish Guys
Last Saturday, Lee Padrick and I fished in the Riley Rods Summer Redfish Shootout Tournament held at Fulcher’s Landing in Sneads Ferry, NC. The rules were simple bring in two reds between 18”- 27” using artificial lures only. Our host, Mike Pederson owner of Riley Rods, decided to shotgun release the field at 6am. The weigh master, Daniel Lee Sbrocco, would open the scales at 3:15 and close at 4:00 for every minute that a competitor is late a pound penalty would be assessed.
At Launch, the tide would be low and rising with a noon high tide. The weather would be a major factor in the days fishing. The weatherman called for scattered storms with wind out of the SE 10-15 mph. He got the storms and wind direction right but was wrong on velocity.
Our plan was simple run back to the last place Lee had caught fish and grind it out. Mike released the field and off we went. The field splits ½ going North up the Intercoastal waterway toward Swansboro. 17 ½ miles later, Lee and I reach our spot with the before mentioned low tide. I put the jackplate up and blaze the flat to our cove as I come off the throttle the motor hits and drags us to a stop. We have arrived! I immediately trim the motor up, good news, we are floating. I drop the trolling motor and start to slowly move the boat into position. I enter the cove, Dang it, the school jumps up and runs in front of the boat neither Lee nor I had seen them sit in this area. We drop the Power Pole and wait hoping they would settle down and return to their happy spot. Two hours of patiently waiting and making blind cast up and down the cove no sight of the school of reds. We decide to move around and try to find them. No results, we continue to beat the backs in the area making blind cast in all the likely areas. It is now 10:30 no fish in the boat, we continue our search. We are hoping that the school will run back into the cove as the tide comes up. To complicate the matter, the wind had steadily picked up to 25 plus mph and a rain storm has past through and we are wet. We slowly move through our cove and round the point and see a mud boil. There they are! Again we drop the power pole and fan cast the area. Nothing but at least we know they are still in the area. There is hope!
Move ahead 2 ½ hours, it is high tide still no fish in the boat and hope has faded. We have learned through the years to believe in our tournament plan and stick to it but it is now 1:00 and nada. It is decision time should we be hard headed and stick to our plan or should we scramble? By scramble, I mean do something that was not apart of our original plan. We hold a team meeting I told Lee of a place that I had caught a 20” fish while on vacation a couple of weeks back. I was confident that the area held more fish that vacation day but ran out of time. The wife wanted me back a lunch so we could spends sometime in the afternoon hanging out on a sandbar. Lee makes the call let’s go for it! Off we go after a 5 mile run; we arrive at our new destination. Wind is blowing a gale we fish one bank with no results. The Trolling motor is useless in this kind of wind so we crank the big motor and slowly move into position we arrive at the oyster bar where I had caught the red. We lower our Power Pole down and with the big wind is at our backs. We start to cast to the point of the oyster bar. Now it is 1:30 still not one bite and an empty livewell. Lee is throwing a gold spoon so I pick up a popping cork. My second cast, I hook an 18 ½ “ red on a Gulp shrimp under the cork. A short fight later he is in the boat on his way to the livewell. Maybe there is hope! A couple of cast later I land a 17”er. I ask Lee, do you have a popping cork? He replies yes and immediately starts to tie one on. As he is tying one on, another pulls the cork under this time it is a 23 ½ “ red. Finally, we have 2 in the well and our spirits have lifted. Lee battles the wind and some how ties the cork on in the gale force wind. Lee starts fish and immediately put one small upgrade to the 18 ½ red in the boat and another under slot. Then he hooks and lands a 21” red at approximately 2:30. We fish awhile longer with no results. At 2:45, we start packing things up and storing away all the gear. We know that it will be a long and bumpy ride back so we start our way back to Sneads Ferry. Tournament experience told us that high winds drives the weights down but we never thought that it would bring them down enough for us to win but we were proud of our hard fought fish. I personally believe in moral victories and this was a huge one.
Lee Padrick and Dwayne Smith – 1st Place with 7.61lbs also had Big Fish with 4.56lbs
Allen Jernigan and Tim Chavez – 2nd Place with 6.80lbs
Johnathan Garrett and Tyler Barnes – 3rd with 6.61lbs
A big thank you to Mike of Riley Rods for hosting, Daniel for volunteering and John Moore of Hook and Bones for the supporting these shootout tournaments.