What a fabulous weekend for The Redfish Series… 5 fish limit per angler, per day, 1 pro per boat with no team mate or armature partner, head to head, mano y mano for the first time ever took place in the kickoff event of the 2014 Yellowfin Elite Series.
Paul Dufrene won the event with 89.24 pounds and took home the top prize of over $10,000.00 in cash.
The following perspective was offered by Todd Masson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
Slow and steady wins the race. Just ask the tortoise. Or Paul Dufrene.
The Cut Off resident fished one of the slowest boats in the field at this weekend’s The Redfish Series event out of Gulf Outlet Marina in Chalmette, and he also had one of the longest runs, which left him with less fishing time than probably any other competitor.
But Dufrene still came out on top with 89.24 pounds of redfish over the three days of the tournament.
The event was the opening of the 2014 Yellowfin Elite Series, which features a unique format in which individual anglers compete to weigh in the heaviest bags over two days of the tournament. The field is then cut to the top 20 percent for the final day of competition.
Unlike most other redfish tournaments, which allow a maximum of two fish per day, the Yellowfin Elite Series lets anglers weigh in up to each state’s limit. In Louisiana, that’s five fish.
The unique rules were a big change for Dufrene, who is a regular in area team tournaments with his partner Jay Cedotal, and they had him flustered on the first competition day.
“Day one, it took me a little time to get adjusted to the one-man (format),” he said. “I think I kind of rushed through my areas a little too quickly. I was contemplating in my head how much I needed five fish. I was a little too impatient.”
Dufrene caught a total of 15 redfish, and his heaviest five weighed 26.72. That landed him in seventh place, nearly 9 pounds behind leader Charlie Thomason.
“Going into Day 2, I was just hoping I could make the top five,” Dufrene said. “I wasn’t thinking I could make up that much of a (deficit).”
He would have to wait a while to find out. The second competition day, Friday, dawned with pea-soup fog, which delayed the start of the tournament until 9 a.m. After that, though, the fog burned off, and the skies were high and blue. That aided Dufrene, who was fishing the clear waters of the Delacroix and Hopedale areas.
“The sun stayed out most of the day, so I was able to sight-fish,” he said. “I took my time going through my areas.”
He was able to be selective in his casts, so he boated only 20 fish, but the heaviest five weighed 32.25. It was the heaviest bag of the day, and the catch catapulted Dufrene into fourth place, less than 2 pounds behind second-day leader Clark Jordan.
But Dufrene’s prospects looked as bleak as the weather.
“Going into Day 3, I was a little nervous because the sun wasn’t cooperating,” he said. “I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sight-fish them.”
Dufrene spent the morning blind-casting, and caught some 2- and 3-pounders. He knew, however, that wouldn’t be enough to earn him the first-place check.
“I figured 30 pounds was where you needed to be each day (to win), and that wasn’t getting it done,” he said. “But as the day went on, those big fish started coming in with the tide, and I was able to see them and throw to the right ones.”
The “right ones” ended up weighing 30.27 pounds, enough to give Dufrene the title by less than a third of a pound over Jordan, who weighed in a dead fish and suffered a .75-pound penalty.
Dufrene fished a number of different lures, but his best success was with Slayer soft-plastics on 1/4-ounce Owner jigheads. His main line was 30-pound Sufix tied straight to the lures.
For the win, Dufrene pocketed the $10,000 first-place check as well as $1,750 for having the big bag on Day 2.
Dufrene liked the format of the tournament, but admitted it presented some challenges.
“I fish out of a tower boat, so climbing up and down that tower, I definitely got my workout in,” he said. “It was a battle between myself and the elements.
“In the team format, one day I might have a good day where my casting is spot on, and then maybe the next day, I’m a little bit off and my partner will pick up the slack. But with this one-man (format), it’s all on you. You can’t blame anyone else. Every decision is your decision.”
Dufrene said he didn’t have any trouble keeping five fish alive in his livewell. Figuring out which ones to replace, though, wasn’t always easy.
“The culling of the fish is the thing that’s going to take the longest to get adjusted to,” he said. “You’ve got to come up with an efficient method. I mean, sometimes I’d look in the livewell, grab a fish and think, ‘That looks like my smallest one,’ and I’d throw it out and put the new one in.
“I wasn’t taking the time to weigh each one of those fish. That could have cost me the win in the end.”
Dufrene liked the challenge of having to catch five fish rather than the standard two.
“On the final day, two of the first three fish I put in (the livewell), I had to measure to make sure they were 16 inches,” he said. “That’s the deal with the five-fish (format): Those little fish can make a difference. Having to keep a 16-inch fish just to have that weight in the livewell, it changes the game a little bit.”
Dufrene is hoping for similar success at his next tournament, a Redfish Series team tournament out of Hopedale on April 4-6. Great article Todd, see more of his coverage at NOLA.com.
Third place found Shane Pescay taking home 2 checks, one for third place and one for having the Academy Advantage big bag of the event 2nd highest single day weight.
“I caught a lot of good fish and had a great time, it’s great to share this event with my family who came to see me weigh in today”, Pescay told the enormous crowd watching the weigh in at the Louisiana Crawfish Festival, day 3’s weigh in location.
All in all a fabulous kick off to the 2014 tournament season for the pros of the Yellowfin E:40 Tour. Even anglers that failed to make the cut like Kevin Broussard and Gritter Griffin stayed around to promote their sponsors, greet the crowd, take photos and sign autographs and even throughout sponsor goodies. Like B.A.S.S. it begins and finishes with the fans.
The anglers and tour did a great job catching and releasing all but 2 of the over 1,000 pounds of fish brought to the scales over this 3 day event and we look forward to a continuation of making the care of the fish, job 1 for the tour. Next up for the Academy Sports and Outdoors Redfish Series is the frogg toggs divisional team series event in Hopedale, LA, April 4-5.
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