Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Red with 19 Spots a Winner

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Red with 19 Spots a Winner

Article excerpt

Byline: Joe Julavits, Times-Union outdoors editor

Back home in Norcross, Ga., Jim Cox runs a collection agency. Yesterday in Jacksonville, Cox fished out of a 14-foot jonboat in his first saltwater tournament and collected the top prize in the third annual Times-Union Redfish Round-Up.

Cox and crew Jerry Self caught a redfish with 19 spots to win $5,500 in cash and a $1,500 Bass Pro Shops gift certificate.

"We caught three rat [small] reds and the leopard," Cox cracked. "This tournament was a blast."

Under the Redfish Round-Up format, prizes are awarded for legal size -- 18-27 inches -- redfish with the most spots. A capacity field of 400 boats, including everything from an inflatable dinghy to a 31-foot offshore boat with outriggers, fished under sunny, mild conditions.

The all-release tournament donated $5,000 each to its charities, Safe Harbor Boys Home and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Unlike last year, when a stunning 75-spot red caught by Bill Pittman of Fernandina Beach blew away the competition, this year's spot derby was razor close.

Jacksonville's Wade Hastings Jr. finished second with 18 spots, and three other local captains -- Jeremy Alvarez, Larry Duke and Frank Wilbanks -- each came in with 16-spot reds. Drew Hartmann of Jacksonville caught a 15-spotter and, in all, 11 anglers caught reds that wore at least 10 spots.

The tournament, presented by Promo Depot and based out of Sisters Creek Park, paid 40 places. The last five places were won by four-spot reds.

Last year's winner could only find a three-spotter yesterday, but he pointed out that, together with last year's 75-spotter, that gave him a two-year average of 39 spots.

"We just had fun today," Pittman said.

There were the usual disappointments, multiple-spot reds that were either too small or too large and had to be put back in the water. …

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