May 28

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EFL Round 1

Round 1, The Berkley Bash, presented by Kemah, TX.

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Monday, May 19th 1:00 PM:

One by one each of the cast members selected for round 1 of the Elite Fishing League’s week of filming and competition pulled into the Academy parking lot in Houma, LA. The time was finally here, this is the first time each of the contestants knew who they would be battling against at the kick off of the newly formatted Tidewater Boats Elite Fishing League, presented by Yamaha Outboards.

Chip Harmon of South Texas, Paul Braly of North Padre, Texas. Kevin Harvey of Burg Louisiana, Chance Angel of Baytown, Texas was a last minute add to the show when Mark Robinson excitedly pulled out due to the birth of his first baby taking place during the exact week he was set to compete. Finally, Bo Favre of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi the first to arrive completed the field for Round 1.

Adding to the excitement as soon as the handshakes and niceties were completed analyst Heather Smith put a microphone in front of each one to capture footage and their initial thoughts and pre-competition game plan. Following the interview it was time for the cast promo shots next to their sponsored covered rigs and then just 15 minutes after arriving they were instructed by commissioner Pat Malone to load up, don’t lag behind the police escort will take you to our secret location for the week of filming and competition, nearly 2 hours away.

After what must have seemed like an eternity to the anxious reality stars, the caravan pulled into the Bridge Side Marina in Grand Isle and checked into their tour sponsored rooms and met at a beach side house with the Commissioner for dinner and the Captains’ meeting. One of the tour’s premier sponsors, frogg toggs provided each cast member with their newest products. Lightweight tennis shoes, f/t flip flops, back packs, EFL logo’d shirts, hats and even custom rain suits specifically designed and printed for the Elite Fishing League cast of anglers. The fabulous gear was packed tightly in round 1’s net sponsor provided by For Everlast outdoor products.

After a delicious spaghetti dinner it was time for the meeting and for the first time the cast of anglers would finally get much anticipated information on their lightening round of competition set for the following day. Some procedures and guidelines for the competition were shocking to the redfish wranglers. Right out of the box a 60 mph maximum speed limit imposed due to the EFL’S safety concerns. “Safety first”, the Commissioner quipped. Second was conservation, the way the boats would be operated near shorelines and marshes as well as another heavily penalized infraction if any harm came to a fish during the show. All fish must be netted, no swinging of the fish on-board. No fish flopping on the deck of the boat, no throwing fish back over-board. Each fish would be weighed and then carefully released below the sides of the boat. Each cast member was informed they would have to revive the fish until it swam off prior to casting again. Intentionally harming a fish would be automatic grounds for a disqualification.

The next morning 5 am came early, but the common census was that no one really slept. Heather interviewed the cast at the Pavilion and Chance Angel said he woke up at midnight with his heart pounding, unable to sleep, his heartbeat ticking with each second until the alarm finally went off. The entire cast seemed to be on the same anxiety train. Paul Braly brought laughter to everyone as he jumped on a child’s bike and began to ride it. Mic checks and interviews, Pat called for everyone’s attention and then he dropped the location of the zone for the Berkley Bash Round One. You could have heard a pin drop.

The faces of the cast went blank and all of the confidence seemed to disappear for a second. Well, everyone but Bo Favre. Bo seemed happy with the location and he became hyper-focused and quickly began devising a battle plan.  All cast members were told it would be unknown waters, but they assumed it was somewhere they had fished before. They were wrong. Quickly each angler, their camera man and their assigned referee were rushed to their trucks as the convoy would be leaving in 5 minutes and heading to the selected boat launch. Are you getting the feel of this? The EFL barely gives it’s cast time to think, wist from one location and activity to another, the only time this cast was not on the move was when they went to bed.

A brief interview with each cast member revealed a combination of forced confidence, ambition, determination and speculation. Kevin Harvey was asked what he thought of the boundaries and location of the round. “If you were looking to put on a tournament in waters with the least amount of redfish, you could not have picked a better playing field”… his disappointment in the playing field and boundaries was evident, however, this was not a tournament, this was a reality TV show.

The main focus for the EFL is to determine out of a specific small group of competitors, who can drop their boat in unfamiliar waters at a mystery location, locate, catch and release the most redfish during 2 four hour periods of fishing divided by a required return (limiting how far a angler could travel) to the launch location for a halftime break, lunch and perhaps even knew twist instructions for fishing period 2.

As period 1 kicked off at 7:30 it took a little while for the cast to find their areas and start catching fish. At halftime guess who was hammering them? You got it, Kevin Harvey. Sandbagging? Fake disappointment in the morning? No, these guys are just that good, they are going to figure them out, eventually and the numbers didn’t lie, it happened quicker than they even imagined. These guys are good! By lunchtime the leading weights climbed above the 80 pound mark with Harvey leading the way while Favre and Angel were nipping at his heels.

As the cast, referees and cameramen enjoyed lunch, it was time for the commissioner to head back to Academy Sports and Outdoors in Houma to meet the next 5 cast members who would repeat the same procedures as the first 5 had the day prior as they prepared to fish in round 2, the Waterloo Rods Round Up under the same strict rules and procedures but on a entirely new body of water hundreds of miles from round 1’s playing field.

During the halftime break, the competitors in round 1 talked among themselves about the first fishing period and it was evident they were chomping both the food and at the bit to get back out to their fishing grounds and pick up where they each left off. 4 more hours of fishing to go, the 2nd period would start at 12:30 and what lied ahead was remarkable. 4 hours of fishing in the rearview mirror, 4:30 PM was the end to all fishing in round 1 as the competitors headed back in to the launch location, which for round 1 was the Sand Dollar Marina at the end of Grand Isle.

Chance Angel dominated in period 2 as Harvey and Favre cooled off. 140 pounds 6 ounces was Angel’s winning weight while Harvey landed, weighed and released alive 113 pounds 5 ounces and Favre’s 106 pounds 11 ounces which would have been remarkable on any other day was on this day only good enough for 3rd.

Texas pros Paul Braly and Chip Harmon finished out the top 5 and the celebration was on. Celebration of the world record weight recorded by Chance Angel all caught and released alive, celebration that all competitors fanned out over 300 miles of shoreline returning safely and on time and celebration that the EFL had logged round 1 without a single negative incident.

But while the celebration was going on for Chase and the other round 1 competitors, the cast members for round 2 had arrived at the lodge via another state police escort and were receiving their frogg toggs sponsored member bags full of goodies. Round 2’s net sponsors was Ranger nets as each angler received Ranger’s eco friendly nets with each cast member’s name engraved on the handle. After putting their goodies in their trucks it was time for another awesome meal prepared by Bridge Side Marina followed by the rules and procedures orientation.

Chance banked a $5,000.00 bonus for his single day round win and was vaulted all the way to the championship round where a new $75,000.00 Tidewater – Yamaha – McClain trailer rig awaits the cast member that finishes on top and a guaranteed $10,000.00 check for each of the others making the Tidewater Boats Championship.

This is a TV show not a regular tournament so each cast member from each round takes home money, another first in the competitive fishing world. On a side note Chance Angel actually caught, landed and release another solid 5 to 6 pounder but by the time the fish was recorded the Score-tracker Live tournament window to enter weights had closed.

No worries Chance, you’ll break your own record before season 1 is in the books, we know you will!

A special thanks to Grand Isle Marina for hosting the cast, crew and staff for the 6 days of filming and competing. Great rooms, awesome food and the laid back nothing is a big deal feel that southern Louisiana folk are known for.

 

Permanent link to this article: https://eliteredfishseries.com/eflround-1/