ST SIMON'S ISLAND, Ga. With redfish proving to be elusive, the two-angler team of Stiles Kellett and Aaron Bishop landed 47 trout to accumulate 3,600 points and take the lead at the first day of the Rich Products Golden Isle Red Trout Celebrity Classic.
Despite the stingy redfish bite, Bishop managed to land two reds to bring his points total to 1,600. Kellett managed 2,000 and put the two in a dead heat for the individual competition. So, the two will have to compete against and with each other Saturday.
Still, the event is all for charity. More specifically, anglers are here to "catch the cure" for Cystic Fibrosis, the main mission of the Redbone series of events. In the second year since its inception, the Built Ford Tough ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series presented by TakeMeFishing.org continues to integrate Redbone events into its tournament structure.
Typically, with saltwater events, the anglers attributed their success to the guide. In this case, Capt. Scott Owens, a 33-year-old local, returned the favor.
"Those guys fished so hard," Owens said. "It was a taxing day. We ran around a ton and used three quarts of bait (nearly 250 shrimp). It was just a slow, steady bite throughout the day."
Buoyed by a win in the Superfly event that took place Thursday, the trio started early targeting reds. Hastings was only able to land two most of the field also struggled with reds when Owens decided to move South.
At around 9:30 a.m., just more than two hours into the competition day, and in a new area, the trout bite turned on and stayed consistent throughout the day. At the very end of the day, the bite got ultra-hot until lines needed to be out of the water at 3 p.m.
"You hate to leave them biting," Hastings said. "It was so tough to leave but we were all beat. We will be good to go tomorrow."
Owens said that the key to finding both species was identifying clear water. He said many of the places found Thursday in the one-day superfly warm-up changed considerably and were virtually unfishable Friday.
With the struggles of most in the 27-team field, guide Ken Doss and anglers Vance Watson and David Booker were able to turn a less-than-stellar day into a top finish. Watson landed 24 trout on bait while Booker landed 20 to bring their team total to 2,200 points.
Doss, who has been guiding these waters for 45 years, agreed with Owens regarding the water clarity.
"It was difficult to find clear, moving water," said Doss, who turns 65 in October. "Everywhere you looked it was muddy. We caught most of our stuff late which is strange."
The event will culminate Saturday when the individual and team champion will be determined. This is the fifth event of the ESPN Outdoors Saltwater Series. The 2009 EOSS season will culminate with the Redbone Celebrity Tournament out of Islamorada, Fla., on Nov. 6-7.
Each event receives television coverage on ESPN2 and extended coverage on ESPNOutdoors.com. While the tournaments appeal to serious tournament anglers, the Redbone was founded to help "catch the cure" for cystic fibrosis.
Rich Products Golden Isle Red Trout Celebrity Classic
Species Redfish Trout
Fly Division 200 200
Artificial 100 100
Bait 50 50
For each Slam, teams earn 50 points