First-place finisher Thaddeus Day stands in front of his Hobie Kayak with his winning plaques at the IFA Kayak Tour event at Fernandina, Fla., on March 20 (To download a high-res image, please contact Greg Duncan)
Winning angler takes home $1,600 in cash and Power-Pole Micro Anchor
NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. – Thaddeus Day, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, measured a combined limit of 58.75 inches to win the first regular-season event for the Florida East Division of the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour presented by Hobie Fishing on March 20 at Fernandina, Florida. The angler won a total of $1,850, including a Power-Pole Micro Anchor for his first-place finish.
Although this was Day's first time fishing the local waters of Jacksonville, the angler bested second place by four inches. Day traveled just under 10 miles in his Hobie Kayak.
"I started with top-water and light swimbaits around the marsh," said Day. "But, I ended up fishing heavy jigs on the bottom."
Day was surprised to find dirty waters and also that his fish had moved off his pre-fishing location.
"The fish I had seen pre-fishing had moved out of the creek," said Day. "I caught a few smaller fish, but the big fish came from bouncing jigs on ledges. I caught a smaller red, but on my way back to the launch I decided to try once more and got the big one."
Day's final redfish measured 41.50 inches and was the biggest of the tournament, winning him the $100 Berkley Gulp! Big Fish Award. The angler was not only happy with his big red but also with his overall performance as a new angler on the IFA Redfish Tour.
"I am stoked to say the least," said Day. "I was very surprised but I knew it would be a tough tournament being my first time in Jacksonville."
Matt Embree, of Jacksonville, Florida, measured a 35.75-inch redfish and a 19-inch speckled sea trout to win the $1,000 second-place prize and added $500 in Anglers Advantage cash. The angler fished around Jacksonville, just 30 minutes from the weigh-in.
"The conditions were better than expected," said Embree. "There was a light breeze with minor drizzle. It was a beautiful day on the water."
Embree fished by jigging a six-inch Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullet and throwing twitch baits.
"I am content but frustrated over the loss of two big reds," Embree said.
Robert Powell, of St. Augustine, Florida, added another top-five finish to his four-year IFA Kayak Tour resume. The angler measured a combined 52.50 inches to take third place. The angler fished his home waters with Berkley Gulp! Jerk Shad. Powell won $565 for his limit.
The next stop for the IFA Kayak Tour is April 3 at Port Aransas, Texas. Anglers who enter a minimum of two events and compete in at least one event will be qualified for the 2016 IFA Kayak Tour championship.
The fastest-growing kayak fishing tournament trail in the country, the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing events are catch-photograph-release tournaments, offering inshore kayak anglers from a multitude of states the opportunity to participate in competitive fishing tournaments with low entry fees and minimal travel requirements.
IFA events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of these well-respected brands: Hobie Fishing, Ranger Boats, Cabela's, Lucas Oil, Yamaha Outboards, RAM, Berkley Gulp!, Berkley Gulp! Alive!, PENN Reels, Spiderwire, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Power-Pole, BoatU.S., Amphibia, Arctic Ice, Protect the Harvest, General Tire, SuperClean, Valley Fashions, ENGEL Coolers, T-H Marine, ATLAS, G-Juice Powertex Group and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.
IFA Kayak Tour – Florida East Division Fernandina, Fla. (Top 10) Thaddeus Day – 58.75 inches Matt Embree – 54.75 inches Robert Powell – 52.50 inches Ty Nelson – 49.00 inches Justin Rienerth – 48.13 inches Phillip DeGiuli – 47.25 inches Ryan Conner – 45.38 inches Steve Bond – 44.13 inches Blake Beltz – 44.00 inches Dustin Braghan – 43.50 inches