Redfish-Trout Tourney Raises $65,000 For Cystic Fibrosis

Capt. Bert Deener | November 1, 2011

John Scott (left) caught the biggest redfish of the tournament (just shorter than 34 inches) at the same time his brother, Sam, was tangling with one of its smaller brethren. John’s red ate a hot chicken Assassin Sea Shad, while Sam’s bit a Calcasieu brew Sea Shad rigged on a Flats Stalker inline spinner.

The 10th annual Rich Products Corp. Golden Isles Red-Trout Celebrity Classic held Oct. 7-8 out of the Morningstar Marina on St. Simons Island was a huge success at raising much-needed funds for cystic fibrosis research. More than $65,000 was raised during the weekend’s event.

During the tournament, contestants are paired with guides for two days of competition. There are more than a dozen awards from largest trout to the daily best angler to the coveted prize of team grand champion. Points are awarded for each trout longer than 13 inches and redfish longer than 14 inches caught and released, and there are bonus points for each pair of redfish and trout caught by each angler. The number of points varies based on the type gear and bait used. Live bait, artificial lure and fly-caught fish receive 50, 100 and 200 points, respectively. Additionally, a bonus (“slam”) 50 points is added to each pair of trout and redfish an angler catches.

About half of the years the wind, rain, extreme temperatures or extreme tides make the event interesting, and this year was one of the bad weather years. Wind was the worst factor in this event. The forecasted gale from a developing storm in the Caribbean caused the tournament committee to make an unprecedented decision to allow guides to trailer their rigs and launch near their fishing areas to prevent dangerous runs across wide-open sounds. This decision changed many anglers’ strategies, and the group was spread out all along the coast. The flags were snapping from the northeast throughout the event, so guides searched for protected waters. At times on Saturday, winds were sustained at near gale force. It was a challenge, to say the least, but the 410 trout and redfish caught and released by the 23 boats attest to the Georgia coast’s quality fishery and knowledgeable guides.

Father and son William (left) and Cal Collier, of Atlanta, earned Runner-up Team Grand Champion honors. William, who has cystic fibrosis, was the 2011 Cystic Fibrosis Ambassador. He has been present at every tournament in its 10-year history and has fished in it the last couple years. The tournament raised more than $65,000 in the fight against cystic fibrosis.

While most boats generated a couple thousand points, Capt. Scott Owens fishing with Stiles Kellett and Ethan Staats aboard caught fish totaling 5,200 points to earn the Team Grand Champion title.

The runner-up Team Grand Champion was 2011 Cystic Fibrosis Ambassador William Collier, teamed up with his father, Cal, and fishing with Capt. Scott Wagner. The father-son duo boated 4,400 points. David Brantley brought home Grand Champion Angler honors by catching 3,300 points, while fishing with Capt. Larry Kennedy.

I was able to guide John Scott to Biggest Redfish honors, as he boated a fish just shy of 34 inches. That inshore fish was smaller than the usual redfish winner because winds kept anglers from getting in the sounds and chasing the bigger bull reds that spawn this time of year in the inlets. John caught that behemoth with a hot-chicken colored Bass Assassin Sea Shad cast over a mud flat with scattered oyster mounds. He fought it expertly, as he hooked it on the smallest outfit in the boat, a medium-light action Berkley rod and only 15-lb. test Vicious braided line.

Capt. Lee Kennedy guided Skip Hamel to the biggest trout, which was just longer than 19 inches.

The Redbone series, which this event was a part of, has its roots in Florida. In the mid 1980s when Gary and Susan Ellis’s newborn daughter, Nicole, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, they could expect their daughter to only live into her early teens. They set out with friend and legendary baseball player, Ted Williams, to raise money for cystic fibrosis research. The original 1988 tournament held in the Florida Keys paired guides with anglers and celebrities who fished for redfish and bonefish, hence the name “Redbone.” Since then, the series has grown into dozens of events across the U.S., the Bahamas and Costa Rica.

Redbone Series tournaments have generated more than $10 million toward cystic fibrosis research. While a cure for this devastating disease has not yet been found, the median age of survival of a person with cystic fibrosis has increased to almost 37 years old.

For more information on the tournament, or if you would like to participate in next year’s event, contact tournament director Amanda Gilbert at (404) 325-6973 or [email protected].

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