D'IBERVILLE, Miss. — When Paul Jueckstock and Manny Perez won the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup regular season event in Port Arthur, Texas, Jueckstock sobbed openly.
But during Sunday's final day of the 2008 championship in Biloxi/D'Iberville, it was teammate Perez who shed the tears of joy as the two Floridians hoisted the 60-pound Cup and pocketed a $50,000 payday.
Late on a blustery, overcast day, Jueckstock and Perez nailed two 30-inch slot redfish weighing 18.90 pounds to take their first Redfish Cup Championship victory.
"This means everything to us," Jueckstock said after embracing his partner. "This is what we fish for."
In second place, Andy Mnichowski and Billy Nicholas landed 17.05 pounds. Defending champions Andrew Bostick and Mark Sepe netted 16.05 pounds to finish in third place.
Fourth-place honors went to Mat Haag and Scott Hughes with 15.79 pounds, while Kevin and father "Cajun" Phil Broussard rounded out the championship top five with 12.05 pounds.
Jueckstock and Perez adjusted on the fly during the day and found the biggest fish in the 30-inch Mississippi slot.
"We first wanted to run close in the creeks and channels and get some fish early," Jueckstock said. "But that plan didn't work out."
Instead, the team decided to make a run back to the Chandelier Islands where they had found massive bull redfish running with 40- to 50-pound amberjacks and bull sharks on Day Two.
But with seas from 4- to 8-feet, and waves crashing across their bow on Sunday, they decided against continuing the run. With "Plan B" now toast, they figured they only had 16 pounds in the livewell and knew they had to make another change.
"We made the decision about half way out there that it was just too rough," Jueckstock said. "So we headed to water around Ship Island."
Jueckstock and Perez began casting quarter-ounce Fin-Tech jigheads with 4-inch Berkely GULP! shrimp to find success in more manageable water.
"We only culled once and we figured we had close to 19 pounds," Perez said. "They were two perfect fish, just under the line."
According to Jueckstock, color didn't matter in regard to the actual bait, but by using a heavier weight, the anglers could maintain better control of their bait and get it down to the fish much quicker.
Jueckstock and Perez were not alone in their search to find fish they could reach on Sunday.
With decent weight, Mnichowski and Nicholas noticed a group of pelicans off a central point late in the day. The team sprinted for the area to search for their upgrade.
"I made a blind cast with a Samurai Shad Glass Minnow," Nicholas said. "Then, I felt a 29-inch, 10-pound fish hit it."
Mnichowski figured the fish was too long, but when the anglers put it on the measuring board it fit perfectly.
"Andy said, 'I don't know if it's big enough to win, but now we have a chance,'" Nicholas recalled.
With minutes remaining before the team would have to return to the dock, Mnichowski and Nicholas left to ultimately learn their fate. After the champions were crowned, the obviously-shaken second-place team retreated to an area backstage.
Sepe and Bostick, winners of the Lake & Bay big bag prize with 19.89 pounds on Day One, also found the big bite tougher on the final day. The Team of the Year joined Kevin and "Cajun" Phil Broussard again on the final day but both failed to post a winning weight.
Haag and Hughes, who ran over 60 miles each day, also learned their primary school of lunkers had begun to disappear.
"I think we got the biggest fish of the tournament," Hughes said. "But we just couldn't get another one."
His teammate agreed.
"We could have pushed it for another hour, but we wanted to make sure we made it back in time," Haag said.
For complete results visit RedfishCup.com.