Minn Kota® Pro Dwayne Eschete from Madisonville, Louisiana, and his partner, Eddie Adams, from Metairie, Louisiana, recently won the IFA Lucas Oil Redfish Open Presented by Cabela’s.
Thirty of the nation’s top redfish teams gathered in Houma, Louisiana, on June 18 and 19 as part of the IFA Redfish Tour. Founded in 2000, this premier inshore redfish tournament series is dedicated to competitive catch-and-release fishing.
“I’m guessing many anglers across the country aren’t familiar with redfish tournaments,” Dwayne said, “so let me give you a quick summary. We can use artificial lures only, and redfish have to measure 16 to 27 inches. That means we’re trying to catch fish pushing the maximum in the slot. Ideally, you want reds measuring 26 3/4 or even 26 7/8 inches. A team can weigh in two fish per day, and you have to keep them alive so they can be released afterward. If you bring in a dead fish, your team is assessed a weight penalty.”
Tournaments with slot limit restrictions are often very close when it comes to total weight, so it’s extremely important to catch thick-bodied redfish that push the slot limit maximum.
“A typical 26-inch redfish will weigh about six pounds,” Dwayne said. “Bring four of them to the scale and your team finishes with 24 pounds. Those are decent fish, but in a tournament like this one, 24 pounds probably won’t crack the top 10, and maybe not the top 15. The key is finding big fish that still fit the slot.”
To find these heavy redfish each day, Dwayne and Eddie boated approximately 100 miles east of Houma to target clear water on the east side of the Mississippi River. Recent spring rains had muddied the waters around Houma, making sight-fishing difficult, and Dwayne had found prime conditions while pre-fishing for another redfish event.
“My go-to technique is sight-fishing,” Dwayne said. “The system I use is simple, but effective. With a bait caster and 50-pound braid, I toss a 1/4-ounce Knotty Hooker Jig rigged with a four-inch, white Berkley Gulp Shrimp. The water is super shallow, usually 12-18 inches, with tons and tons of grass. But the grass helps filter the water, keeping it clear enough to spot cruising redfish. My Majek boat is perfect for skinny water, and I stand and cast from a sturdy, folding tower that’s raised into position after making the long boat ride to the area.
“Perhaps the most important part of my entire sight-fishing system,” Dwayne continued, “is my Minn Kota Ulterra trolling motor. Using the remote, I simply press the ‘Deploy’ button twice and the motor is automatically lowered into the water. And depending on water depth and thickness of the grass, I can use the Ulterra’s Power Trim feature to raise and lower the shaft. I can steer the motor with the remote and sight-fish while standing on the tower. And when it’s time to use the outboard to change spots, I press the ‘Stow’ button once and the Ulterra is lifted out of the water and stowed for travel. It’s an incredible tool.”
During the two-day event, Dwayne and Eddie registered four redfish for a total weight of 36.15 pounds; the second-place team had 35.01 pounds. “Catching a 9-pound redfish that fits the slot is very rare,” Dwayne said. “We had one red that weighed 8.51 pounds, and the other three topped the 9-pound mark. It was an event Eddie and I will certainly never forget!”
For more information, visit minnkotamotors.com, contact Minn Kota, P.O. Box 8129, Mankato, MN 56002, or call 800-227-6433.
Johnson Outdoors Marine Electronics, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Outdoors and consists of the Minn Kota®, Cannon® and Humminbird® brands. Minn Kota is the world’s leading manufacturer of electric trolling motors, as well as offers a complete line of shallow water anchors, battery chargers and marine accessories. Cannon is the leader in controlled-depth fishing and includes a full line of downrigger products and accessories. Humminbird is a leading global innovator and manufacturer of marine electronics products including fishfinders, multifunction displays, autopilots, ice flashers and premium cartography products.