When Robbie Green and Jim Chalkey returned to the weigh-in at Gulf Shores Alabama, on October 14th, after completing the third and final event of the 2008 Gulf Coast Division of the IFA Redfish Tour, never did they imagine their performance would garner 1st place, thus pushing them into 2nd place in Gulf Coast Division points standing. An accomplishment, which is noteworthy, especially considering the less than perfect conditions they and other tournament anglers endured as Hurricane Ike traveled through the Gulf to the southwest.
An inside look
Having the opportunity to sit down and chat with Green and Chalkey was a pleasure, of course we talked fishing, but there were a few questions I hoped they would answer in an effort to shed a little light on this quest they have embarked upon. A quest which will ultimately end for this year, after they compete in the 2008 IFA Redfish Tour Championship in Panama City Beach, Florida, on November 7th-8th.
How it came to be "Team Redfish 101"
This on-and-off the water fishing camaraderie began somewhere in the year 2003. Their friendship sparked like many others have over the last few years, by exchanging light-hearted banter on BigBendFishing.net - an Internet forum where people meet to post their thoughts on fishing. As well, the two are both members of the Tallahassee based North Florida Gulf Fishing Club, which was founded in the spring of 2001 to provide monthly venues, both on-and-off the water, for people who love to fish.
Over the years, both Green and Chalkey, being avid inshore fishermen, have developed a mutual affinity for chasing and catching redfish. After many fishing trips and much time spent on the water, somewhere in the fall of 2007 - the subject was broached. The possibilities of the two teaming up to fish the IFA Redfish Tour together.
Putting the prop in motion
With the first tournament of the series beginning on May 10th, 2008, in Panama City Beach, the second scheduled June 21st at Navarre Beach, Florida and the final leg in Gulf Shores, Alabama - the fishing duo began to form a plan which would place them in a position to contend in the tour events.
Tournament fishing is not an inexpensive venture to pursue nor is the time needed to prepare necessarily easy to come by, explained Green and Chalkey, who are both very modest about their accomplishment, appreciative of those who helped them out and give credit to the support they have received. "Being able to find fish is a must, but without the other side of the coin it wouldn't be possible." They credit their families, sponsors and friends for their success.
All things worked out and the two were able to use relationships and contacts to find the sponsorship needed to fish. Sponsors from South Georgia, Tallahassee, Panama City Beach and beyond showed their willingness to support. Capitol City Bank, Pickett's Landing, Paradise Bar Grill & Bar, South Georgia Outdoors, Challenger Tackle, Grand Panama Beach Resort and Bite-A-bait stepped up to the plate, setting the portion of the plan needed to perpetuate them towards tournament reality into play.
Once the prop was turning they realized the need for a reasonable goal to be set. This was simple for these two humble anglers: not to look foolish, tops 20 finish, and catch a fish each event. Little did they know, they would far exceed this list of goals, by placing in each tour event.
Formulating a Plan
These two anglers put together a plan that would ultimately allow them to place in all three legs of the tour events. Not an elaborate plan, but a good, functional plan none-the-less. Their plan was and is - to keep it simple. This is not to say that many hours of planning and homework don't go into this ongoing adventure.
Green and Chalkey explained they spend many hours studying nautical charts and online maps of the areas they plan on fishing. They also informed me that it didn't hurt to take note of advice offered from someone like redfish tournament veteran Paul Chavis.
Once a tournament approaches they typically fish two weeks out and then the three days prior to the day of the tournament. They pre-fish the areas of interest, which they have located, and eliminate the ones where they don't find redfish.
Green and Chalkey explained, "confidence in your spots is a must, you can not start second guessing yourself". When tournament day arrives the two stick to their plan, and fish the spots in a rotation pattern, fishing each spot hard and fast until they find fish. When they catch a legal tournament redfish the fish goes in the live well until it can be upgraded with a larger fish. This goes on until it is time to proceed to the weigh-in.
Tournament fishing takes teamwork and understanding how your partner will react, especially if you want to be successful. Each member should have a primary duty and position in the boat. Both men each echoed the same sentiment " you have to compliment each other by using your strong points to work together". On this team, Chalkey stands on the bow and operates the trolling motor while Green is standing on a large ice chest behind him. This allows both of them to fish in front of the boat as they work through undisturbed water. When a fish is hooked-up, the person who doesn't have a fish on handles the Power Pole and netting duties. In other words; the left-hand needs to know what the right-hand is going to do. Though occasionally things too go a little awry joked the two, referring to the number of rods they have broken during the heat of battle. Green jokes " Heath Sanders at South Georgia Outdoors would think something is wrong if I didn't walk through the front door with a handful of broken rods the day after a tournament".
Baits and such
When questioned about their go-to lures and what produced the best for them, both Green and Chalkey replied "metal and soft-plastic". "Anything we can cover a whole lot of water quick with and keep moving". Occasionally they do fish top-water, but not generally on tournament day. The risk of loosing a good fish boat-side is too great. Their brands of preference for those who wonder is: Captain Mike's Spoons, Texas Red Killers (soft plastic), Bayou Bucks Spinner Baits and Bite-A Bait for top-water.
Speaking to these two gentlemen as a person who has been around the recreational fishing industry for a few years, I had one last question. Is there anything you would recommend to others who want to fish the tournament circuit? The answers flowed easily: "make sure you have a strong home life and a good wife, you will need the support and understanding", "treat it like a business because there is money involved and taxable winnings, if you are lucky" and most importantly "you have to remember your job is to represent your sponsors in a positive, professional manner whether you win or lose".
Both of these gentlemen are grounded in their careers, home-life, and communities. Their accomplishment as a team is one, which is noteworthy. When asked about what they were going to do about the upcoming championship in November? The answer came easily " keep on doing what we've been doing and show up to fish".
For more information on the Team Redfish 101 visit www.teamredfish101.com, or if you ware interested in information regarding the IFA Redfish Tour, details can be found at www.redfishtour.com.