The Bagwell Tournament presented by the Mobile Bay Kayak Fishing Association held it’s 9th rendition a couple weeks back in Alabama. Damian Bosarge shares with us his tale of how the day of fishing went and all of the winners of the 9th Annual MBKFA Bagwell tournament.
By May 16th, 70 anglers had signed up to fish the Mobile Bay Kayak Fishing Association’s 9th Annual Bagwell Tournament. A quick glance at the Weather Channel app on my phone informed me that conditions during the tournament would be deplorable at best. Then again, a quick glance around the room at the flashes from lightning outside the captains meeting the night before, would’ve made checking the app not necessary. Brian Carson (MBKFA president) announced that the tournament would move forward as planned as long as there wasn’t a small craft advisory issued for Mobile Bay by 5am. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, only a “small craft caution” was issued by NOAA for Mobile Bay by 5am.
Southeast winds were pushing 20 knots or better at times as the day progressed. Yak anglers were able to launch anywhere along the 600 plus miles of Alabama’s tidal shorelines. Most would seek protected waters, some would just stay home, others would wait patiently for the red beans and rice that Kyle McDowell (tournament director) had prepared for the awards ceremony. I was one of those guys that opted for the protected waters.
This tournament was placing three spots for each of the typical inshore slam species, plus three spots for a super stringer that could contain up to 5 fish in any combo of specks and flounder, but only one red. I had been prefishing for nearly a month. Thought I had it all figured out. Trout spot, check. Redfish spot, check. Flounder spot, check. What didn’t check out was mother freaking nature. My spots on the west side of the bay were all blown out. No way to really get to any of them without risking more than I was willing to risk. A lot of fishermen were in the same boat… or yak rather. Myself and my fishing partner, Josh, decided to make the best out of a bad situation. We pounded the closest available marsh lines in hopes of picking up a flounder or a fat red. At one point the rain and lightning rolled in so hard that we both paddled for cover in opposite directions. I wound up underneath the bow of a barge. He wound up in his truck. While I’m crouched nearly in the fetal position, I hear the dinging of text messages emanating from my pocket. Who could this be at a time like this? What’s so important that somebody wants to interrupt my fishing time? Brian Carson, that’s who. Why was he so rudely interrupting me while I was concentrating on clinging to the underside bow of a barge in a deluge of water, wind, and sparkly stuff? To brag, that’s why. “Hey look at the sky over here on the east side of the bay. It’s nice and overcast with a nice breeze. By the way, here’s some pics of an awesome redfish I just caught and check out these trout.”
The rain started to ease, and me and Josh, gathered our composure and managed to make our way back out to the marsh lines. We were fishing a ledge just at the edge of the marsh that had paid off for myself and my 10yr old son the week before. I managed to wrangle two undersized flounder off the bottom. By the time I caught those, I was just happy to feel a tug on a line. My partner on the other hand had slipped a nice flounder into his cooler without saying a word. When the rain started again he was like “Yeah I picked one up a little while ago. Ain’t much to him. I think I’m gonna head to the Waffle House, grab an Allstar, maybe go help out at the scales.” I refused to give up. Then fire rained from the sky with roaring claps of thunder rumbling overhead. Allstar started sounding pretty good. I caught him before he got out of the launch parking lot. After all he has been my fishing
partner for nearly three years. Couldn’t let the man eat alone.
After scarfing down a hot meal, I went straight back to the same launch and got after it. I knew there had to be another flounder laying around there close somewhere. Surely a red would pop up and start feasting on all the shrimp that were darting in and out of flooded grass lines. Something, something, something had to give. Time was running short, the clouds were starting to clear, my clothes were nearly dry, thing were looking up. Then it happened. Mother freaking nature reared her head one last time. Breakfast had run its course and made it to the finish line. The Allstar had made an allstar peddler out of me. My Pro Angler had never seen a top speed until that moment. I think that mirage drive and rudder were the only parts of that yak in the water for the solid 5 minutes back to the launch. My tournament was over. I was literally S.O.L.
Upon arriving at the scales, I learned that not everyones day finished in the toilet. There were some nice fish being brought in. There were lots of stories.
Some good. Some bad. One gentleman flipped his new Hobie Outback and lost all of his gear. He was wearing his PFD. He was able to tell his story and recruit some folks to help him try to recover some of his belongings. We had some members from BCKFC make the trip from Louisiana to fish the tournament. Particularly BCKFC’s new president Todd Lewis, who was here to exact his revenge for losing The Presidents Challenge to Brian Carson at Paddlepalooza this past April. The Presidents Challenge is a friendly competition between MBKFA and BCKFC’s current club presidents. It’s a “bragging rights” style competition, whoever catches the heaviest slot red. The winner gets to hold onto a paddle that contains the insignia of both clubs. Todd lost. MBKFA is still bragging.
The winners for this years 9th Annual Bagwell Tournament are:
1) Zac Lemon, 7.529lbs
2) Brian Carson, 7.176lbs
3) Neil Patterson, 6.570lbs
1) Todd Bunch, 3.164lbs
2) Alex Swanson, 2.348lbs
3) Benton Parrott, 2.326lbs
1) Scott Elzey, 5.930lbs
2) Scott Thompson, 5.104lbs
3) Blake Walters, 4.806lbs
1) Owen Caraway, 2.315lbs
2) Steve Lessard, 1.874lbs
3) Josh Bailey, 1.510lbs
Josh LaConsay, 11 spots
Matthew Harris with a 4 spot, 4.64lbs redfish caught on topwater!
The majority of all fish brought to the scales were donated to Alabama Hunger Relief. MBKFA would like to thank all of our sponsors for coming on for this tournament. Special thanks goes out to Academy Sports & Outdoors, First Community Bank, and Mediterranean Sandwich Co.
Tight lines, blue skies, and green marsh lines. Don’t forget to wear your PFD!
About the Author
Born, raised, and still residing in the heart of Bayou La Batre, Damian can be found stalking the bayou’s and flats of his native lower Alabama in search of big trout and good times. Damian Bosarge is the media director for MBKFA, blogger for Inshore Ninja, and co founder of the Skinny Water Fishing Team.