Tournament – Carolina Redfish Elite
The 5th annual Carolina Redfish Elite, held at the Morehead City Waterfront at Rock Landing, took place from June 1-2, 2018. Hosted by PointClickFish and Chasin’ Tails Outdoors, this year’s event was another success for tournament creators Matt Lamb and Jay Feimster, who started the competition five years ago. When the duo came up with the idea for their tournament, they wanted something that got people excited about redfish. There weren’t any other big events in North Carolina that focused on red drum at the time, and fishermen were itching for an outlet to highlight the species.
Wanting to take advantage of the amazing fishery along the NC coast, Lamb and Feimster teamed up to create the Carolina Redfish Series, a family-friendly event to support these redfish anglers and emphasize conservation and camaraderie. Over the years, numerous national and local sponsors lent their support to the tournament, which Feimster notes has been “great to see.”
The tournament had a different format initially, but two years ago the guys decided to raise the stakes. Feimster said, “We were trying to create an elite tournament that captures the teams that are willing to fish for big money.” There was a cap of 40 teams in 2018, and 35 boats registered. Winners were determined by a combined weight of four fish, using their two best fish from each day.
Dwayne Smith and Lee Padrick, of “The Redfish Guys,” took home first place this year with a grand total of 28.66 lbs. They’ve been fishing tournaments for 10+ years and did plenty of pre-fishing before the Carolina Redfish Elite. They went into this competition with what Smith called a “game plan of several [saltwater] places to hit on day one,” while saving more freshwater-ish fishing for day two. Over the course of the event, though, they would encounter fish in new water and territories that they hadn’t originally planned on fishing.
Using Johnson and Tsunami gold spoons and Carolina-rigged Gulp baits, they reeled in some beautiful reds in the marshes around Harkers Island and the Newport River.
On day one, the pair caught their bigger reds, which weighed in at 7.31 lbs. and 7.42 lbs. and secured them the second place slot on the leaderboard with 14.73 lbs. total.
On day two, they caught a 6.86 lb. and a 7.07 lb. red, bringing their overall weight to a tournament-best 28.66 lbs.
Smith commented, “We are humbled by the response that we have gotten from competitors and some of the people who ran the tournament. It’s been overwhelming, and we’re thrilled we get to represent the Redfish Elite Series.”
As a nonprofit event, the tournament as a whole focuses on conservation, charity, and community, promoting sportsmanship along the way. The local Cross Trail Outfitters of the Crystal Coast chapter provided a kids event as part of the tournament, and this year, there were 75 kids who participated in fishing on Saturday morning until 1:00 pm. They also attended seminars on how to fish, with information on tackle, and the tackle itself, provided.
The Carolina Redfish Elite tournament will be returning in 2019, and more info can be found at www.carolinaredfishelite.com.