HOPEDALE, La. With the start of football season right around the corner, perhaps Mark Sepe and Andrew Bostick had the gridiron game on their minds during the day on Saturday. The 2007 Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup champions beat the storms and scooped up two hefty redfish weighing a tournament-best 17.42 pounds during Day Two of the tournament in Hopedale, La.
"We're on the right shape of fish — obviously." Sepe said from the stage after confirming their position in the first of five slots to fish the Sunday final with a two-day 34.12-total. Earlier in the day, the Deland, Fla. angler said all of their fish would be pulled from "the same zip code."
Finishing in third place on Day One, Sepe and Bostick's stringer bumped the previous day's leaders Bill Faulkner and Kevin Mihailoff into second place. With the pressure to secure a strong showing at a tournament gone after the first day's efforts, Faulker felt calm enough to guide his team to 16.79 pounds on Day Two.
Andy Mnichowski and Billy Nicholas fished close to the bank, sneaking inside the grassline and casting into the gullies, to post another consistent weight of 16.24 and climbed into third place on Day Two.
Louisiana's "Cajun" Phil and Kevin Broussard found a steady group of fish for 16.13 pounds to move into third place from the fifth position on Day One. Working the entire length of the shoreline, the father-and-son team claimed to have been running and gunning more than most teams.
Stephen Stork and Terry Thomas dropped in the standing to fifth place but were still pleased to make the cut despite a lower 15.49-pound weight.
All weights will be zeroed during the final launch which means all the anglers will start on equal footing on Sunday.
By 11:00 a.m. on Day Two, Sepe and Bostick had caught between 40 and 50 fish sight fishing in shallow waters in a marsh only 30 minutes away. It was the same group of spots they fished on Day One.
"We had to move back to the fresh water to get the fatter fish," Bostick said. "But there were a lot of skinny ones, too. We caught a bunch of them early today but they weren't the right weight, so we moved. "
The pair was looking to upgrade a 7-pounder when they hooked into a fish weighing around 8.75 pounds, their biggest of the day.
Faulkner and Mihailoff looked to upgrade again on Saturday as well. But these two south Florida anglers had a different reason to keep hunting.
"Our scale is light and we thought we only had 15.12," Mihailoff said. "It's a little freaky." When asked if the team had any plans to recalibrate their scale by Sunday's launch, he laughed and said they weren't changing anything.
With memories of their win at Punta Gorda still fresh on every team's mind, the other anglers know that when Sepe and Bostick say they are catching fish, they are catching fish.
"We haven't caught the big ones yet," Bostick said. "We left them there for tomorrow."
But this is Louisiana and every team in the top five has proven they are on the big fish. The final battle begins on Sunday at dawn.