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HOPEDALE, La. — On Sunday, Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish cup anglers Mark Sepe and Andrew Bostick climbed down from the stage with championship belts slung across their shoulders for the second time this season. Immediately, a swarm of fans, reporters and fellow anglers converged on the two smiling Florida anglers as their feet splashed the rain-soaked ground in Hopedale, La.
With 16.49 pounds on Day Three and their latest win, Sepe and Bostick have now won half of the regular-season events on the Redfish Cup circuit and bested Kevin and "Cajun" Phil Broussard by ounces at Punta Gorda and again in Hopedale.
The Broussard boys, obvious favorites in their home state of Louisiana, finished the tournament with 16.23 ounces. In third place, Stephen Stork and Terry Thomas put 15.96 pounds on the scale. Bill Faulkner and Kevin Mihailoff, the tournament leaders on Day One, posted 15.70 pounds to end their trip and Andy Mnichowski and Billy Nicholas caught 15.10 pounds of redfish to finish in fifth place.
Kevin Broussard was among those standing at the front of the winners' receiving line after learning his team's fate moments earlier. Struggling with the heartache of losing another close tournament, the younger Broussard wanted a few words with Sepe and Bostick.
"Let me at least see what one looks like," Broussard said placing his hands on Bostick's championship belt. "I've come ounces short now twice."
The deflated angler then congratulated both men for their efforts and gave them each a well-deserved hug.
"I'm tired of being the bridesmaid," Broussard said, turning to rejoin his father. "I'm tired of catching the bouquet."
On Sunday, tournament weights were overall lower than those experienced on previous days. Slick, calm waters and increased fishing pressure could have meant the difference.
But Sepe and Bostick stayed right on track.
Despite forgetting their "lucky" push pole before launch, the 2007 Redfish Cup champions returned to their winning spots and their winning ways on Sunday by sight-fishing the shallow waters of the Louisiana Marsh. The majority of their catches came on Berkley GULP! jerkbaits or shrimp fished weedlessly or with a jighead.
"They were a little spooky today," Sepe said. "But if you lead the fish just a little bit and drag it right across their nose, they'll hit it."
"I honestly thought we had more (weight)," Bostick said about his team's final day results. "I thought we had 17 pounds."
With a second consecutive win and 49 more points in the race for the Academy Team of the Year presented by Crocs, Sepe and Bostick now appear poised to take their first-ever title, no matter how they fare in Pensacola, Fla. — the next and final event of the year before the Redfish Cup Championship in Biloxi, Miss.
Asked about the idea of capturing the achievement, Mark Sepe shared his thoughts: "It would mean the world to me (to win the title)," he said. "I've got a baby on the way. But other than having a healthy baby, it would mean everything to me and my fishing career."