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SUPER ACTION WITH REDS AND SPECKLED TROUT HIGHLIGHT 2020 HOBIE OWNERS’ CORPUS CHRISTI TOURNAMENT

Fishing Stories |

Villarreal’s redfish takes top spot as elite field of kayak anglers battle for the crown.

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (October12, 2020) – By any standards, the 2020 Hobie Owners’ Corpus Christi Tournament, hosted by the Fin Factory Kayak & Tackle Company, proved a huge success. Featuring exceptional redfish and seatrout potential in shallow waters, the contest drew nearly 150 kayak anglers with a mix of local sharpies, national names, intermediate anglers and newcomers to the sport. All told, 75 participants measured 120 fish, but it was 39-year old Andy Villarreal of San Antonio, Texas, who ruled the day with a brace of reds that tallied a total weight of 14.18 lbs. (53 inches). Poco Cedillo, 39, of Corpus Christi, Texas, finished second with a pair of redfish weighing a combined 13.14 lbs. (52.75 inches), and Nathaniel Hutchinson, 28, also from Corpus Christi, placed third with two redfish scaling at 11.75 lbs. (49.75 inches). All fish measured at the weigh-in for the one-day event had to fall within the Texas slot limit for each species: 20 to 28 inches for redfish and 15 to 25 inches for speckled trout.

For his efforts, Villarreal pocketed $4,000 cash and a 2021 Hobie Outback for a total prize value of $7,099.99. Cedillo came away with $1,500 Cash and a Texas Power Paddle© propulsion system for a total prize value of $3,750.00. He also took home another $880 for heaviest fish with a 7-pound, 6-ounce red.  Hutchinson netted $700 cash and a 2019 Hobie I11 for a total prize value of $3,269. The tournament also raffled off a custom rod and reel combo to raise $500 for Make-A-Wish® Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana.

“This sure was an exciting contest, and it was great to see such a big turnout of Hobie Kayak owners,” said tournament director, Capt. Mike Morales. “Most of the better scores came from the flats, and virtually all of the catches were recorded within three or four miles of Bluff Bay Marina, which served as our home base on North Padre Island. With a wide variety of fishing opportunities and conditions in our area, especially on the saltwater inshore front, our Hobie community has really been growing. When you consider how stable and reliable these kayaks are, along with their MirageDrive capabilities that allow anglers to negotiate flats, sandbars, oyster bars and marsh areas without the need to physically remove the drive – and hands-free – it’s no wonder Hobie is such a popular choice here. With plenty of public access to our inshore waters, it’s likely we’ll see this community continue growing in the years ahead.”

“That’s so true,” said Villarreal, who credited his 2018 Hobie Outback with MirageDrive for helping him reach the waters he wanted to probe. “I tried a couple of other kayaks before getting my Hobie, but they left me feeling as if I couldn’t take them where I needed to go,” he stated. “I like to get back in the marshes and deep on the flats. In those places, having to remove your pedal drive and pick up a paddle can really slow you down. But with my Hobie, I can simply flutter-kick past sandbars and oyster beds and keep fishing. Plus, my Hobie can deal with the weather here, push through a strong tide, or even head far offshore on a calm day. It’s dependable, stable and rugged. What more could you want?”

Fin Factory co-owner Capt. Mike Morales, winner Andy Villarreal and Fin Factory co-owner Naomi Morales.

It was deep into the flats that Villarreal put his game plan to work. After finding a decent number of smallish slot reds during practice fishing, he drilled a 26-incher and decided to pound that area for the duration of the tournament. “I was using a popping cork with a four-inch, New Penny, Berkley Gulp! shrimp on a 1/8-ounce jighead to work sand holes,” he revealed. “I quickly connected with a 17.75-inch trout and a 22.5-inch redfish, so I kept grinding. Then I hooked a 25.5” red, upgraded my trout, and finally nailed a 27.5” inch red. I was shaking when I got that last one in. I knew I was in the game and I was really excited. I fished a little longer then decided to head back early and make sure I didn’t miss the weigh-in. That was the toughest part, waiting a nerve-wracking two hours more to see if someone would overtake me. No one did – and I’m still stoked!”

For Cedillo, the morning started off on a tough note. Having found some solid pre-fishing, he expected to be into good action bright and early but found the fish gone when he arrived at his hopeful hotspot. “I had to go to plan B,” he said, “so I found some deeper water nearby and spent the day burning a gold spoon. Luckily, that worked out. I found the reds stacked pretty thick in a 100-yard stretch and managed to land 10 slot fish in about two hours. With five minutes to go in the tourney, I hooked into a big redfish that might have pushed me over the top, but it slipped the hook just five feet from my kayak. That was a tough one.”

Hutchinson, meanwhile, felt lucky that the tourney boundaries were close to his favorite fishing area, which lead to a fair level of familiarity. Knowing of a couple of holes where the reds might be found, he set out and had two slot fish by 10 a.m.

“I was throwing a 4-inch, Creole Croaker pattern Z-Man scented PaddlerZ in grass beds and looking for random pockets of sand where redfish like to hold,” explained Hutchinson. “I used several different lures before I broke out that one. Once I tied it on the fishing was consistent the rest of the day. It’s an awesome lure that doesn’t shred when trout and other toothy predators gobble it up. I’ve been using the same package of lures for about 6 months now, so you know what I think of them.”

Hutchinson also noted that he was pleased with how smoothly this event was run, especially considering the number of individual entrants. “It came off as well as any competition I’ve ever fished,” he said. “In fact, it’s hard to describe how happy I was with the smoothness of checking in, the weigh-in and the social distancing. This tournament was very well run. If you’ve never fished a Hobie event before you need to give it a try.”

Villarreal was impressed as well. “The camaraderie was good, and the tournament was better organized than others I’ve fished. The director and staff seemed to have thought about everything in advance. There was top level competition, no confusion, and great fishing. I came here hoping to just finish in the money and make the 2021 Hobie Fishing Team. I met my goals and left with so much more. What a fun event. I can’t wait to enter the next one.”

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