Kelly Phillips, of Lakeland, Fla., led wire-to-wire, measuring four fish totaling a combined 125 inches in length to win the first-ever championship tournament for the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie on November 13. The event, contested in and around Orange Beach, Ala., which operated out of the Cobalt Restaurant, featured a field of qualifying anglers from each of the six divisions of the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour looking to catch and document the largest redfish and speckled sea trout each day of the two-day catch-photograph-and-release event. Phillips' combined aggregate score gave him a 22.5-inch margin of victory, bringing him the first championship title for the first-year tour.
With the win, Phillips won a new Hobie Mirage Pro Angler Kayak valued at $2,399 plus $200 in first-place prize money, plus an addition $200 for the largest redfish of the tournament, a 43-inch kicker caught on the final day.
With a first-day lead, Phillips took the waters around Orange Beach, followed by a camera crew who were filming for the upcoming IFA television show, set to debut nationally on Versus in 2011. Fishing from a Hobie Pro-Angler Kayak - his first-place prize for winning the tournament at Fernandina earlier this year - Phillips did not succumb to the pressure of fishing in front of an entourage. Using Berkley Gulp! shrimp and Bomber topwater lures, Phillips' performance in front of the camera yielded his second over-40-inch redfish of the event plus a measurable trout.
"The IFA put on a great event; the staff is professional and great to work with. I'm going to be inviting everyone I know to fish the tour next year," said Phillips, who qualified from the Florida East Coast Division. "I want to give Hobie props for making incredible kayaks. The Pro-Angler made the fishing I did much easier due to the stability and being able to move around more quickly and at will. I've been in all kind of kayaks and this is hands down the best."
Second-place finisher, Jason Callaghan, of Crawfordville, Fla., measured a combine 102.50 inches over two days, including a 28.75-inch trout on day one, the largest of the event. With his second-place finish, Callaghan took home a Hobie Mirage Outback kayak valued at $1,749; $150 in second-place prize money plus $200 for the largest speckled sea trout of the event.
In addition to seeking the first-ever championship for the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie, Callaghan, who qualified out of the Gulf Coast Division, was out to settle a bit of sibling rivalry with his brother, Liam Callaghan. Liam, who finished fifth in the championship event, was the Angler of the Year in the Gulf Coast Division, edging out Jason by nine points. Using topwater baits to target large trout, Jason got the better of his brother in the championship event, but Liam captured the Overall Angler of the Year, worth $1,000, with the highest championship finish of the six division winners.
"I am thankful to the IFA for giving us a chance to compete. It's been a fantastic experience," Jason Callaghan said. "I decided to go after my trout early, but nothing went as planned. I didn't have a trout in the first four hours. The second day the wind got crazy and we had to tether our kayaks and huddle up in our windbreakers."
Third-place winner, Timothy Walker, of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., measured four fish totaling 100.88 inches, winning a Hobie Quest kayak valued at $949 and $100 in third-place prize money. Qualifying out of the Gulf Coast Division where he finished fifth in the regular-season points standings, Walker caught two big redfish the first day, including a 40.25-inch kicker, but couldn't manage to find similarly sized fish on the final day.
"I went back to the same spot and didn't have the same luck," said Walker, who had a fifth-place finish at Destin, Fla., and a sixth-place finish at Panama City Beach this season. "Luckily I had a couple of other spots that I could run to and managed to catch enough to finish third."
The IFA Redfish Tour continues to draw redfish anglers from Texas to the Carolinas and beyond, offering two-angler teams the opportunity to compete in six different divisions, each offering a three-event regular season. Low entry fees for the one-day, regular-season tournaments allows anglers to fish close to home and minimize expenses, while still being a part of a premier inshore, catch-and-release redfish tournament organization. The regular-season IFA Kayak Tour redfish/trout tournaments pay twenty places (based on a 100 boat field) plus Big Redfish, Big Trout and Junior Angler Awards. The winners take home a Hobie Mirage Pro-Angler valued at $2399, 2nd place prize will be a Hobie Mirage Outback, valued at $1,749 and 3rd place a Hobie Quest, valued at $949.
For more information or to become a member of the IFA, the fastest-growing inshore fishing tournament series in the United States, go online to www.redfishtour.com or www.ifakayakfishingtour.com. To discover more about kayaking and Hobie Fishing go towww.hobiefishing.com.
IFA events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of the fishing industry's most respected brands: Ranger Boats, Hobie Fishing, Cabela's, Yamaha Outboards, Rapala, Trigger X, Sufix, Columbia Sportswear, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Power-Pole, Wrap This, CW Crab, Charter Lakes Marine Insurance, Solar Bat, Navionics, Blue Point Fabrication, EGO Nets, Bob's Machine Shop, 321fish.com, Kayak Anlger Magazine, Terminator, VMC Hooks, Loadmaster, Powertex Group, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Local sponsors for the 2010 IFA Redfish Tour Championship include the Alabama Gulf Coast Sports Commission, Caribe Resort and Cobalt Restaurant.
IFA Kayak Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing Championship
2010 Championship Results
Orange Beach, Ala. (Top 23)
1. Kelly Phillips - 125 inches (Hobie Mirage Pro Angler Kayak + $200)
2. Jason Callaghan - 102.50 inches (Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak + $150)
3. Timothy Walker - 100.88 inches (Hobie Quest Kayak + $100)
4. John Chapman - 95 inches ($150)
5. Liam Callaghan - 89.63 inches ($150)
6. Benton Parrott - 88.13 inches ($150)
7. Brendan Bayard - 82.63 inches ($150)
8. Jeff Suber - 82.25 inches ($150)
9. Clint Barghi - 81.75 inches ($150)
10. Blake Beltz - 78.63 inches ($150)
11. Fil Spencer - 73.00 inches ($125)
12. Gairi Williamson - 64.88 inches ($125)
13. Chris Holmes - 64.50 inches ($125)
14. Vincent Rinando - 60.50 inches ($125)
15. John Lee - 46.25 inches ($125)
16. Wayne Lobb - 38.25 inches ($100)
17. Josh MacNaughton - 37.00 inches ($100)
18. Norman Walker - 22.50 inches ($100)
19. Valerie Gonsoulin - 19.50 inches ($100)
20. Barrett Jones - 19.00 inches ($100)
21. Scott Inge - 19.00 inches ($100)
22. Jason Broach - 18.50 inches ($100)
23. Steve Neece - 14.00 inches ($100)
Big Redfish ($200): Kelly Phillips - 43 inches
Big Trout ($200): Jason Callaghan - 28.75 inches