Greg DeVault, of Port Richey, Fla., weighed a three-day total of 42.33 pounds of redfish to win the Lucas Oil IFA Pro-Am Redfish Challenge at Punta Gorda, Fla. on Oct. 6. The high-stakes event, presented by Cabela’s, featured many of the sport’s biggest names and will air nationally on NBC Sports Network, Time Warner Cable, World Fishing Network and the Pursuit Channel beginning January 2014.
The Pro-Am format was a hit with anglers accustomed to fishing team events. For his efforts on the pro side, DeVault won $25,000 cash while Paul Klingel, of Port Charlotte, Fla., took home the $4,000 co-angler first-place prize with a 41.96-pound three-day total. The two winning anglers were paired together on the first and final days of the event and will also receive custom rings, courtesy of Lucas Oil.
An IFA angler for over a decade, including back-to-back IFA Championships in 2003 and 2004, DeVault showed his fishing prowess at the Punta Gorda event. Along with this extensive tournament experience, the angler said his familiarity with the area was a big help.
“We had a solid week of pre-fishing,” said DeVault. “Going into it, I didn’t want to run all around. I found three or four areas that I really had a lot of confidence in and had a good amount of fish.”
Fishing three main areas, the angler was sure to not wear out his welcome at his productive spots.
“I changed tactics on the second day,” said DeVault. “We went to a different area first and then hit the other two on the way in. We actually bettered our weight at our last stop. After three days of fishing, some guys had worn out their fish by fishing the same spots over and over.”
DeVault went into the final day with just over a pound advantage in front of David Walker. Rejoined by his first-day co-angler Paul Klingel, the pro-angler went back to his most productive spot.
“Going into the final day I had a lot of fish available to me,” said DeVault. “I knew going in that they were going to have to have a spectacular day to catch me. We managed to catch our fish by 10 o’clock and had right about 13 and a half pounds. We fished until 12:30 and headed back to give us plenty of time to make it back.”
Even though co-angler Klingel has fished the IFA for five years, he was surprised by how much he learned from the pros.
“I love this format. You always learn something from these guys that have been in it for so much longer,” said Klingel. “They have tips they can always give you with all the different ways they do things.”
After bringing in the first day’s top co-angler bag of 14.14 pounds of fish, Klingel sat atop first place in the co-angler division. Paired on the second day with Tadd VanDemark, winner of the IFA Pro-Am event in Chalmette, La., Klingel brought in another 14.38 pounds for a half-pound lead going into the final day.
“After fishing with Greg on the first day, it was great to be paired up again on Sunday,” said Klingel. “I was up a half a pound and Greg was ahead by about a pound. It was close for both of us. We figured 13 to 14 pounds would win. We got into a school and had our limit by 10:30.”
Klingel said he is happy with his win and, although he cannot make it to the IFA Redfish Championship in Houma, La., he is looking forward to next year’s events.
“All around, the IFA is the best redfish tournament system for the angler,” said Klingel. “The people are great and it’s getting bigger and bigger. I am really looking forward to competing next year.”
Second-place pro finisher Mike Taylor, of Stella, N.C., took home $7,000 for his 42.02 pounds of redfish. J.R. Witt, of Sarasota, Fla., rounded out the top three for the pro-anglers with 40.98 pounds to take home $5,600 in winnings.
Co-anglers Fred Walker and John Roberts won second and third places, respectively.
For more information or to become a member of the IFA, the fastest-growing inshore fishing tournament series in the United States, go online to www.ifatours.com.
Lucas Oil IFA Pro-Am Redfish Challenge – Punta Gorda, Fla.
Pro Top 10 Finishers
- Greg DeVault – 42.33 lbs. – $25,000
- Mike Taylor – 42.02 lbs. – $7,000
- J.R. Witt – 40.98 lbs. – $5,600
- Cody Chivas – 40.96 lbs. – $3,550
- Blake Smith – 40.60 lbs. – $3,340
- Jay Withers – 39.72 lbs. – $3,157
- Artie Price Jr. – 39.02 lbs. – $3,003
- Bruce Morris – 37.04 lbs. – $2,600
- David Walker – 34.68 lbs. – $2,500
- Gary McKenzie – 33.02 lbs. – $2,500
Co-Angler Top 10 Finishers
- Paul Klingel – 41.96 lbs. – $4,000
- Fred Walker – 41.11 lbs. – $2,720
- John Roberts – 40.92 lbs. – $1,560
- Stan Allen – 40.88 lbs. – $1,288
- Kelly Causey – 40.44 lbs. – $1,134
- Mick McClelland – 39.83 lbs. – $1,048
- Lyn Bevis – 38.52 lbs. – $750
- Michael Delagarza – 37.90 lbs. – $700
- Jeff Watkins Jr. – 34.95 lbs. – $600
- Rusty Jewett – 33.89 lbs. – $500
Image courtesy Inshore Fishing Association