Despite a Day 2 letdown, Bassmaster Elite Series pro Chris Zaldain of Fort Worth, Texas, and IFA Redfish Tour angler Ryan Rickard of Brandon, Fla., stuck with their area and put the finishing touches on a winning three-day total of 43 pounds, 4 ounces at the Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter.
After placing third on Day 1, Nov. 12, 2021, with 14-10, Zaldain and Rickard held that spot on Day 2 but saw the effects of a minor front dwindle their productivity to 11-5. Championship Sunday served up nearly perfect conditions — light south wind, warm and calm — and the anglers put on a bona fide shallow-water redfish clinic that yielded their best bag of the event — 17-5.
Zaldain and Rickard’s final-round catch was the day’s second largest, behind the second-place team of Bassmaster Elite Derek Hudnall of Baton Rouge, La., and IFA Redfish Tour veteran Ron Hueston of Naples, Fla., who caught the event’s heaviest limit — 18-3. Edging Hudnall and Hueston by a margin of 2-12, Zaldain and Rickard won $50,000.
“We figured out a pattern really late on our last day of pre-fishing,” Rickard said. “We had to stick with it for three days. Yesterday it bit us a little bit, but it panned out today.”
A seven-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier, Zaldain won the 2015 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year Championship tournament. Rickard, a seasoned redfish tournament pro, notched his first career victory.
“I’ve been bumped so many times,” said a visibly emotional Rickard. “I can’t even express the emotion that I feel — it doesn’t seem real. But today on the boat, Chris said ‘Whenever it happens, something special happens.
“Well, I’ll tell you, today was something special on the bite. I’ve never had a final day like today was.”
Day 2 leaders Travis Land of Seguin, Texas, and Nicky Savoie of Cutoff, La., who represented the Elite Redfish Tour, placed third with 40-4. On Day 1, they placed fourth with 13-3, then added 14-8 to take over the top spot. In the final round, they caught a pair of reds that weighed 12-9.
To read more about the Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship, click here.
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