Mike McDonald, of Sarasota, Florida, measured a combined limit of 50.00 inches to win the final regular-season event for the Florida West Division of the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour presented by Hobie Fishing on Sept. 28 at Sarasota, Florida.
Over the last two years, McDonald has shown consistency by winning three out of the last four IFA Kayak Tour events in the Florida West Division. McDonald’s only miss in the last two years was a second-place finish at Ruskin, Florida.
“The key to winning is being prepared,” said McDonald. “I keep five rods and reels rigged up, ready to go for any and every possible thing that could happen.”
Without an opportunity to prefish before the event, McDonald leaned on a few friends who fish the IFA Redfish Tour for information.
“They don’t need oversized redfish,” said McDonald. “I try to find out from them where they are seeing oversized redfish and see if it is feasible to get a kayak there.”
McDonald also attributes his tournament success to the recent purchase of a Power-Pole Micro Anchor.
“It’s the only way to go when fishing a kayak tournament,” said McDonald. “When you take a stake-out stick, it’s hard to get your kayak in the perfect position. But, with the Micro Anchor it’s real easy.”
McDonald fished the Prices Key area with top-water baits and Berkley Gulp!. The angler reported a hot trout bite but had difficulty hooking into a redfish.
“The redfish were aggressive,” said McDonald. “They were blowing the plugs out of the water but they weren’t getting hooked. I stuck it out and was just about ready to give up on the spot when I rounded the corner and found a school of reds.”
After enduring a recent surgery where he was left with nerve damage in his neck, McDonald was thankful for his Hobie Pro Angler Kayak.
“I have no power in my left arm,” said McDonald. “Fortunately, I have a Hobie kayak that I can peddle.”
McDonald won $1,850 and a $700 Power-Pole Micro Anchor for his first-place finish. In addition, the angler took advantage of a contingency prize and won $425 in Anglers Advantage cash. McDonald also won the $100 Berkley Gulp! Big Trout award for his 21.00-inch trout.
Second-place finisher Rusty Driver, of Sarasota, Florida, measured a 28.50-inch redfish and 20.00-inch speckled sea trout to win a total of $1,360. The angler fished top-water baits and jerkbaits in the Sarasota Bay area.
Kasey Arrowsmith, of Apollo Beach, Florida, won the $500 third-place prize and $225 in Anglers Advantage cash for his combined measured length of 46.25 inches. Arrowsmith pitched to potholes waiting for redfish schools and worked mullet schools for his trout.
The next stop for the IFA Kayak Tour is the championship event at Houma, Louisiana, Sept. 17-18. All anglers who fish a minimum of two kayak events will qualify for the 2014 IFA Kayak Championship.
The fastest-growing kayak fishing tournament trail in the country, the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing events are catch-photograph-release tournaments, offering inshore kayak anglers from a multitude of states the opportunity to participate in competitive fishing tournaments with low entry fees and minimal travel requirements.
IFA events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of these well-respected brands: Hobie Fishing, Ranger Boats, Cabela’s, Lucas Oil, Yamaha Outboards, RAM, Berkley Gulp!, Berkley Gulp! Alive!, PENN Reels, Spiderwire, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Power-Pole, Amphibia, Arctic Ice, Protect the Harvest, General Tire, Bob’s Machine Shop, Blue Point Fabrication, SuperClean, Progressive, Mustang Survival, iON Cameras, Valley Fashions, Powertex Group, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Economy Tackle/Dolphin Paddlesports, The Bearded Clam Waterfront Restaurant & Tiki Bar and Centennial Park.
IFA Kayak Tour – Sarasota, Florida (Top 10)
1. Mike McDonald – 50.00 inches
2. Rusty Driver– 48.50 inches
3. Kasey Arrowsmith – 46.25 inches
4. Jared Tetreault – 46.25 inches
5. Matthew Lentz – 46.00 inches
6. Gary Gilliland – 45.50 inches
7. William Lusk – 45.50 inches
8. Jeremiah Acevedo – 44.75 inches
9. Richard Gilliland – 44.50 inches
10. Ty Nelson – 44.00 inches
Image courtesy Inshore Fishing Association