Jan 05

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Changing to stay Elite

Redfish in 2022 The Next Level

From the Desk of the Commish; Entering our 15th year in producing redfish events, here is my take on the state of the sport.

Producer and host of the Elite Redfish Series.

Coming off a fantastic weekend and Yamaha’s Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship, presented by Skeeter boats a lot stood out. The event was professionally and technically perfect! What a production, so jealous. The footage, the camera equipment, live drones and hand held cameras produced terrific, crystal clear footage. It was obvious from the first minute of the first broadcast, technology has changed a lot since the days of the Oboy! Oberta Redfish Cup as Yamaha re-entered the redfish television market and  brought viewers to a terrific new front row seat to watch the action live as it happened, in 4K HD!

Along with the beautiful shots of the pristine waters of Port Aransas another thing stood out to the experienced viewers of professional red fishing, the equipment. At the Yamaha Redfish Cup Championship competitors fished from similar rigs without platforms for casting or navigation. The handles of each team’s reels would be turning in this event as teams had to find and catch their fish from the deck of the boat (like professional bass anglers) in both practice and competition. While on the phone with a top Texas boat builder earlier he stated “I started watching the Bassmaster Redfish Cup and had to call -_-_- and tell him, look there’s no platforms on any of those boats, they are all bay boats, I kinda like it.”

When the Elite Redfish Series came on the scene in 2010 the most controversial topic of the day was the measuring equipment and procedures. Some tours pinched the tails of the redfish a certain way, some would flip a fish if it didn’t measure on one side to see if it would measure on the other. Others didn’t pinch the tail at all but would fan it. A team really didn’t know until they fished their first event what to expect at the measuring station. One tour in particular even promoted/bragged “we are going to try and make your fish as long as possible, if it can go over we will make it.” As the new kid on the block in 2010 I felt, we can do better than this, “why don’t we standardize the measuring and take out the controversy” I told my partner and any angler that would listen.

Early designs were crude and needed more thought but we were off and running with a hands off measuring system. A tilted measuring board so that gravity alone would keep the fish in place and on the other end, a simple 3 sided, 3″ channel of aluminum (named the perfect pincher) would pinch the tails exactly the same for all competitors. Hands off measuring was now a thing!

A few years later we met with our friends at Check It Stik and commissioned their company, TG Industries to put their engineering skills to our thoughts and whalla the Check It Stik Elite Measuring system was born. This dependable and easy to replicate procedurally system would go on to be the official measuring system of redfish tournaments all across the country. What’s the point? The point is standardizing equipment so that the perception of fairness of competition is always something worth doing.

Back to the Redfish Cup Championship. The technology was ridiculously good but so was the competition due in large part to all teams fishing from similar boats, motors, etc.. I believe this is the next level change needed in professional red fishing where prize purses are swelling to 6 figures and more and more events are taking place in pristine waters and private marshes. As the famous tennis player Andre Agassi said back in the 80’s “image is everything” when doing commercials for Canon cameras. At times the “image” of our sport has suffered because of the lack of uniformity of equipment and how some have operated that equipment.

I compare it to Nascar vs Indy… A Nascar Cup Series car is awesome and if you’ve ever been to Talladega or Daytona and saw a Nascar race you know the awesomeness of these vehicles. Likewise there are fans of formula 1 racing. You know Indy 500, etc.. These multi million dollar, 220+ mph race cars are phenomenal machines too. However, drivers never compete from these 2 awesome but totally different race cars on the same “track” or in the same “race”.

The point is… in my humble opinion, this issue is not about who does what with their boats, 99% of all anglers fish clean and do a great job helping others, sharing tips, having fun and continuing the commoradore that makes our sport great. This is about leveling the playing field the best we can to create the fairest competitions where all anglers compete from similar style boats with similar height casting platforms and do so as safely as possible. I know “everyone can buy whatever boat they want” that is true but for us and the sport, in my opinion, without this change we will run out of water and communities that will not only stop welcoming us to town but will possibly outlaw or restrict us from coming. The 300 pound gorilla in the room is… Our sport has 2 main types of “race cars” bay/skiff inshore type boats and tower boats and I feel with the big boys like Bassmaster Redfish Cup looking at our sport again, this may be our best last chance to garner the support of the national spotlight and sponsors that could result in more national exposure and gigantic paybacks if we together make some adjustments to what we have come to consider the norm.

Want to see what they are fishing for in US Open Bass Tournament this week at Bass Pro Shops in Table Rock? I just received this from one of our friends working the event.“Pat, it’s all Johnny Morris, but he’s contracted MLF folks to run it. It’s an amazing opportunity 1 Million dollars cash, two Toyota Tundras and 2 60k Nitro Boats so probably 1.2 million for first total and 200k for second, etc..” Wouldn’t that be nice to have similar in redfish one day. Click here to see what a 4 million total payout looks like.

I understand that not everyone will agree, like or even tolerate these changes, it’s each angler’s prerogative to make up their mind what and when they will fish and to compete in whatever they feel shows off their abilities the best. For us? Fishing has always been about spending time slipping down a bank on the trolling motor hunting for fish, casting in pockets and areas that look like they would hold fish and the excitement that comes from figuring them out. If that sounds like you then please read below on the main changes for 2022. If not, we understand and wish you the very best in 2022 and beyond.


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