Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Big Payoff on Smallest Fish; Trio Wins Roundup with Tiniest Legal Redfish Allowed by State Authorities

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Big Payoff on Smallest Fish; Trio Wins Roundup with Tiniest Legal Redfish Allowed by State Authorities

Article excerpt

Byline: JIM SUTTON

In 2005 the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission adopted the "pinch tail" method of measuring redfish. Otis Chauncey thanks them.

What was surely the smallest redfish legally entered into competition in the 11th annual Times-Union Redfish Roundup became the big fish of the day, packing 27 spots into its 18-inch frame. That's the smallest redfish that can be legally caught in Florida waters. Pinching the tail can add an easy 1/4-inch to a fish by pushing the caudal fin together and out. Chauncey's fish needed every smidgen of it.

Spot Master Dan McCarthy of Jacksonville University poked, prodded and flipped the fish over several times on the measuring bar. Second opinions were called in. Third, too. The fish just touched the legal line, not one millimeter more. And there are 24.5 millimeters in an inch.

The little fish that could, did.

Chauncey, with his crew of John and Danny Goodman, took home $7,500 for the catch; winning the event going away.

Chauncey weighed the fish early and hovered over the event site, nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.

There was never really a competitor. The second-place fish had 17 spots, caught by Louis Joseph.

All of the competitors earned their fish the hard way.

Winds howled past 30 knots and swung from the south to the west; whitecaps building as the tide ran against that grain. Smaller boats took gulps of the St. Johns River over their bows.

Crews fished, but several were clearly grateful to drag their boats out of the water and up the ramp at Jim King Park and Boat Ramp at Sisters Creek. Mike Bunn fished a 14-footer and said "Clapboard Creek was a nightmare."

Anglers fishing two ounces of lead said it wasn't enough to keep mud minnows, shrimp or cut crab on the bottom. Just 65 fish were "counted" out of 300 entries. Last year, that number was 105.

Fred Rounsaville's 13-spotter took third.

Tim Pollard came in fourth with an 11-spot fish. But Pollard's clearly got the multi-spot mojo working his way. He, Gene Teeton and Jim Belachek caught 20 reds that included a 10-spot fish, two 9s-, a 7-, a 6- and a 5-spot. …

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