One-trick ponies seldom win races, but Sean O’Connell of Mandeville, La., and Edward Adams of Metairie, La., proved they were nothing of the sort by adapting to changing conditions and securing a wire-to-wire win at the Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter with a three-day total of 48 pounds, 3 ounces.
On Day 1, the 2022 Redfish World Series champions took the lead with a two-fish limit of 16-10. O’Connell and Adams held onto the top spot on Day 2 with 15-3, also the day’s best. Not to blow their streak, the winners turned in the heaviest limit of Day 3 with two reds that weighed 16-6.
For their efforts, O’Connell and Adams took home $75,000.
“There’s been a rumor that I can’t win outside of (Louisiana), but I guess this crushes that rumor,” Adams joked. “This is more than I could hope for. I’ve been doing this a long time and it’s my first win out of state, so it’s a really big deal.”
O’Connell echoed that sentiment and noted the scale of this week’s win did a lot to advance the sport.
“The stage that we were fishing and the platform that B.A.S.S. created is unparalleled by anything I’ve ever fished in redfishing,” he said. “We’ve never been able to fish live and have the BassTrakk live standings.
“People now get to see what we do. This brought redfishing to a new stage and I can’t thank B.A.S.S. enough.”
O’Connell and Adams increased their margin each day. In the first round, they established a 13-ounce lead over the all-star team of Bassmaster Elite Series veteran Chris Zaldain of Fort Worth, Texas, and IFA Redfish Tour standout Ryan Rickard of Brandon, Fla., who won last year’s event. Day 2 saw the leaders widen the gap with a 2-3 lead, again with Zaldain and Rickard in second.
Day 3 saw O’Connell and Adams surge across the finish line by a margin of 3-14 over the defending champs.
For two days, the winners had diligently worked a pattern of long drifts across shallow grass flats in Laguna Madre, south of Port Aransas. With dim skies draping the Texas coast, Day 1 brought southeast winds of 15 to 20 mph, with Day 2 blowing at least as hard out of the northeast.
Both days, O’Connell and Adams had to use a drift sock to control their speed for efficient coverage with their swimbaits on 3/8-ounce jigheads. Day 3, however, brought much less wind and that eliminated their ability to drift.
“We made two adjustments,” Adams said. “First, Sean tied on a Yo-Zuri topwater so he could make longer casts and I added a Seaguar fluorocarbon leader to my PowerPro braid (because of the clarity).”
At 7:45 a.m., the topwater broke the ice with a high-slot red that went 7-10. The leaders endured a couple of hours with a lone keeper in the boat before adding one around 3 pounds.
Mid-morning, they had a shot to blow the doors off with a tank of a redfish that crushed O’Connell’s topwater, but the fish measured just over the 28-inch maximum. Fortunately, they’d boat another giant just before 11 a.m. and this one went 8 3/4 pounds and measured just under 28.
“That’s as close as it gets,” Adams said during the Bassmaster Redfish LIVE coverage. “That could be $75,000 right there.”
The 2022 Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter was hosted by the Port Aransas Tourism Bureau & Chamber of Commerce. You can read more about the event on Bassmaster.com.