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Not following the crowd

6/3/2009

KEMAH, Texas — If it weren't for the top two teams, this Redfish Cup tournament would be off to a rocky start.

You can take that quite literally.

Ben Alderman and Ronnie Pitts lead the event with a two-fish stringer totaling 18.55 pounds. They are followed by Sonny Granger and Jake Matney with 17.28 pounds.

Both of those teams hightailed it to higher ground some 100 miles away to catch their heavier weights. The rest of the leaders, and most of the field, headed straight to the rocks that form a series of jetties at the mouth of Galveston Bay.

"It was unbelievable the number of boats on those rocks,'' said Mike Frenette, the captain of his team that includes son, Michael. The Frenettes, who won here in 2006 by concentrating on the jetties, are in third with 16.90 pounds.
"There were literally times when you couldn't cast to one side or the other because every was so bunched up."

The close quarters didn't deter the catch much.

Only 2 pounds separate third place from 19th place, most of whom were concentrated on the rocks. The rest of the top five looks like this: Jim Franklin and Matt Haag are fourth with 16.89 ad Kevin and Cajun Phil Broussard are in fifth with 16.79.

The two teams to watch, at least at the moment, never even saw hard ground on Day One.

Alderman and Pitts only fished for about 15 minutes to catch their leading weight.

The pair are concentrating, for a short amount of time because they are traveling 90 miles from the take-off, on grass patches. They caught their first fish, a 9-pounder, almost immediately on a Ribbit topwater frog.

"It didn't take long after that the frog seemed to spook them,'' Alderman said. "We picked up a gold Berkley Spoon and caught a 4-pounder and then followed that up with another 9-pounder."

The action was quick and furious, but the team didn't, and couldn't, stick around too long. With two impressive fish, they started on their way back to Kemah, boating approximately 20 miles an hour.

"Our theme song was 'Slow Ride,' all the way back,'' Alderman said. "We wanted to baby sit those fish, take care of them every way we could."

The team made it back for the 2:30 p.m., check-in time with more than an hour to spare.

What makes their short day and heavyweight even more impressive is they feel like it will be no problem to do it again.

"I don't think it will be a problem to do it again,'' Alderman said. "And if we do, we have a back-up plan that is pretty good."

Back-up plans could turn out to be the defining factor in this event. Granger and Matney had to go to theirs on Day One to catch their stringer. After they set on Plan A for about two hours, the pair moved to their secondary spot and caught their two keepers "real quick."

It's worked for them, but expectations are that all those teams making a run for the final five on Day Two will likely have to fall back on something.

"I expect all those teams to lose about 25 percent of their weight tomorrow,'' said Robert Scherer, who along with partner Blaine Friermood are in 25th place with 14.20. That team won the last Redfish Cup event at Kemah in 2007.

"This is the first pretty weekend that Houston has seen in a long time. It's Saturday and you can bet that those jetties will be full of locals. There will be so many boats on the water it will make some of their heads spin."

Scherer and Friermood are hoping for just that. They are concentrating on a school of fish in the same area from where they won in 2007. But the fish didn't bite on Day One and true to form they had to fall back to Plan B to weigh in two keepers.

"One thing for certain is tomorrow will be a completely different day,'' Friermood said. "You can expect a lot of flip-flopping in the standings."

Day Two of the Redfish Cup gets under way Saturday at safe light with anglers checking into the weigh-in at the Kemah Boardwalk at 2:30 p.m.