Fished my first tournament abroad last weekend and headed over to Dauphin Island to compete in MBKFA’s Bagwell tournament. The Bagwell isn’t all that different from BCKFC’s Paddlepalooza or Fall N Tide, except that instead of a traditional slam category, they have a super aggregate category in which you can turn in one slot red(16-26″ in Alabama) and any combination of four trout or flounder for a five fish stringer. It places more emphasis on trout, which in Alabama is not a bad thing, as it is an inshore area that has been known to produce big trout, and more consistently than southeastern Louisiana.
In preparation I spent some time scouting Google Earth, but really relied on a fellow Jackson teammate from the area, Justin Seiffert, to impart whatever local knowledge he could to a Bama rookie like myself. The plan was to maximize my time on the water (always my strategy with any “go anywhere” tournament) and fish the west of Mobile Bay, hoping to catch my redfish, trout, and flounder all out of one launch spot.
I launched in the dark early Saturday and was greeted with a nice sunrise as I made my way across a bay.
As I got to my destination I started out by throwing topwater while the sun continued to rise. I missed a decent trout early on, but managed to connect on the next one, and at 16.5″ it was a fair start to the day. I continued to throw the topwater, but the action was very inconsistent, I switched it up with a swimbait and caught a 14.5″ trout targeting a small area of slick water. I alternated between the topwater and the swimbait and missed one really nice fish on top that was truly a heartbreak, it was a brief fight but in that short time I could tell it was a good fish. A few good, slow head shakes later and my line went limp. It was a bummer to miss those few fish as I could have had my four trout that I needed, but I only had two.
I fished my way down the shore and finally made it into a small cut that headed into the marsh interior. One cast into the cut and I was connected with my first redfish. He was a keeper at 20″, I knew I’d need an upgrade, but Alabama lets you keep three slot reds, so he went in the fish bag.
Unfortunately after that fish everything went quiet for me. The action slowed down big time, despite how nice the water looked. I finally hooked up with another fish as I saw a nice red heading my way, cruising down a shoreline. I made a good cast with the swimbait and he pounced on it. Immediately I knew it was too big to keep, but he made for a fun fight anyway.
He ended up topping the 30″ mark and after a few pics I lowered him into the water and sent him on his way.
That would be my last fish on the day, but I continued to cover some really pretty water. From healthy interior marsh to grass covered flats with good water clarity, the spot I chose to fish seemed like a good one, I just didn’t produce the results. I think it is fair to say that the redfishing comes a bit easier in Louisiana.
I headed back to the launch and got packed up. I was pretty hungry at this point and was really looking forward to the crawfish boil that the MBKFA guys were planning on doing at the weigh-in. Although I knew my fish wouldn’t sniff the leaderboard it was nice to know there would food and drink waiting for me when I got there.
The MBKFA crew put on a first class event and although I didn’t take home any hardware I had a great time on the water and at the weigh-in. It was good to see Justin rewarded for his efforts with a third place flounder. I wasn’t the only Louisiana angler along for the ride. Tyler Drude took home first place redfish and his buddy placed in the redfish category as well. Brendan Bayard took home first place trout with 5+ lb stud caught on the East side. That’s where all the better trout came from as the overall winner, Nick Creamer, had five solid trout pulled from that way too.
Big thanks to Justin on the solid advice and to MBKFA for hosting the tournament, really enjoyed fishing and hanging with you guys. There is some really pretty water south of Mobile that I’d like to explore a little further. I’ll have to make a conscience effort to start bringing the kayak on our Alabama beach trips, now that I have some clue as to where to go.