Joes & Pros Trout Championship
Anyone who fishes ends up with … well … fish stories. No surprise there. But the one that happened at the Fifth Annual Joes & Pros Trout Championship was a whopper.
The Blind Tiger started this tournament at their Bay St. Louis location. Five years later, with as many more restaurant locations, both are still going strong. This year, the tournament was moved to their Biloxi location across from Harrah’s Casino which offers a larger and more centrally located venue.
The day of the tournament was bright and sunny, but with a 15-18 knot wind blowing the entire day. This put competing anglers at a disadvantage as they not only faced heavy seas, but dirty water and the effects of the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.
At least it didn’t rain. And it didn’t stop the celebrities competing in the charity shootout for Kidz Outdoors from having a great time. Country music star, Buddy Jewell, and his family fished with Capt. David Kuehn, while Kerry Cahill (from the cast of the hit TV series The Walking Dead) and Mrs. USA Universal (Kimberly Meinhart) fished with Capt. Chris Barlow.
Though they fished with some of the best charter captains on the coast, it was tough fishing. “Kerry caught her first ever redfish on the way back in,” said Capt. Chris Barlow, “and then wanted to keep fishing for another hour hoping to get a second fish for the Redfish Slot Division. She was really a trooper.” All three celebrities then joined Hancock-Whitney Bank in presenting a $10,000 check to Kidz Outdoors.
While the celebrities ended the day having had a boatload of fun but finding few fish, a number of other veteran anglers did manage to find some luck. David Saucier is known as a top angler who routinely catches big reds. And the Joes & Pros was no exception where he took top redfish honors with a 32.4 pound red. Rachel Bosarge led the Redfish Slot category while Tabitha Hatcher was the Women’s Grand Champion. But it was veteran speck fisherman, Brandon Busby, who ended up with the biggest trout … and the biggest story.
Brandon Busby was the Trout Grand Champion and then with team winner Jimmy Swinford, went on to win the Team Trout Championship netting a combined $7,000. Pretty big story! But that’s not all.
He did all that without even entering an 8.1 pound trophy trout which he decided to keep! But that’s still not all. He was wading fishing when he hooked the biggest trout of his life. He fought it until finally managing to get it into the net with the tail hanging out one side and the head the other.
This fish was so big, he struggled to get his hands around its “throat.” He was able to get the stringer through the bottom lip but before he could finish, the fish flipped out of the net and swam away. “I’ve caught a lot of nice trout,” he said, “and this one was over 12 pounds.”
While Brandon didn’t need this 12+ pound speck to win the tournament, he did need it to break the state record AND win the $25,000! When asked how long it would take before he quit having nightmares, Brandon replied, “Probably never.” I believe him.
For a complete list of winners and more information on the tournament go to: https://joesandpros.com/ Frank Wilem is CEO of The Wilem Group which produces television shows including Find Your Outdoors (formerly Gulf South Outdoors.) Info on FYO air times and channels may be found on their website at www.findyouroutdoors.tv.