ABACO, Bahamas — What a difference a day makes.
Down on their luck and in a relative funk after a poor first day at the Baker's Bay Marsh Harbour Bonefish Classic, the season-opening event of the ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series, Rod Jack and Butch Armstrong made a conscious decision to change things up on Sunday and in the process, had one of the best tournament fishing days known to man on the picturesque Bahamian waters.
Flanked by accomplished guide Justin Sands, the duo cashed in on pristine conditions, landing 45 bonefish in the Abaco-based event. Their final tally was 9,100 points, with 8,900 of those achieved Sunday. Forty-four of the elusive sportfish were landed on fly while one was caught on live bait.
"It was the best day of fishing that I have ever had in my entire life," said Jack, 46. "I've been bonefishing for 12 years and I have never approached what happened today. It's hard to describe just how good it was out there."
First thing Sunday, Sands piloted the crew to a productive area in the Marals, a popular fishing destination in the Bahamas, and the bite turned on early.
For a five-hour period starting at 8:30 a.m., Sands anchored the boat in a transition area. Bonefish were moving from the shallows in search of deeper water and the winners used the area to pick off schooling fish.
In the initial area, Armstrong said they saw more than 600 bonefish. Eventually, when the clouds rolled in, the anglers moved to a secondary area where they continued to cash in on the red-hot bite.
To put things in perspective and to illustrate just how on the bite was, Armstrong said they landed a bonefish every 10 minutes and scored six doubles, when both anglers landed a fish simultaneously.
"It was absolutely ridiculous out there," Armstrong said. "This was my second time here and I am coming back every here. It was just incredible."
Both anglers said their successful style was decidedly different than traditional Bahamas bonefishing with the heavy reliance on current. The owner of a material handling distributor, Jack recently got involved in support of and participation in Redbone tournaments.
Jack's son Tucker, who is 10 months old, suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. The mission of the Redbone events is to "catch the cure for cystic fibrosis" and while Jack was ecstatic with his record day, he was able to keep things in perspective.
Jack is one of many participants in the Redbone Series of events who donates valuable time and money to assist in Redbone founder Gary Ellis' mission to find a cure for CF.
Finishing in a distant second was Ex-Denver Bronco Mark Cooper and Charlie Wollberhauser with a two-day tally of 4,400 points.
Teams were randomly paired with guides each day of competition. Participants were allowed to use live bait, fly or jig plugs, with varying degrees of points awarded for each method.
Coinciding with this week's season opener was the debut of television coverage for the EOSS. Through May, fishing fans can see coverage from the 2008 on ESPN2 Sunday at 8:30 a.m.
The Redbone Celebrity Tournament Series was founded by Gary and Susan Ellis in 1988 with a mission "To catch the cure for cystic fibrosis."
For more information on the individual tournaments, fishing fans can visit http://www.redbone.org.