Day 1 was a tight finish for two Texas pros. Stingaree pro Tony Viator weighed in 20.48 pounds on his 3 live redfish to lead the field while Baytown’s Gary Moreno came to the scales with 20.40.
Robinson, Granberry and Frenette were all still in striking distance, but Moreno was the closest being just 8/100ths of a pound behind the leader helped with his 9.37-pound giant. While Moreno was excited about his day 1 finish, Viator stated that he battled small fish and oversized fish most of the day and was concerned that he may not be on the right fish to win. “Gary can catch em’ and he’s been hot this year, I’ll have to think about what to do tomorrow in order to close the deal, I hope the bigger fish show up.” Viator told day 1’s spectators at the S.A.L.T. club in Port Arthur Texas, the host facility and weigh in site for this year’s event.
In Texas a redfish must be at least 20″ but not over 28″ in length in order to be possessed by an angler and weighed.
Day 2 the field launched under calm winds and clear skies but both would change before day’s end. Viewers on Elite Redfish Series social pages were able to follow some of the action as anglers went live with on-the-water-updates throughout the day, but as morning gave way to afternoon thunderstorms it was frogg toggs rain gear time for the pros and tour delaying Championship Saturday’s weigh in. After the storms and delays were finished the pros hit the Elite stage to weigh with their day 2 limits. For most of the field, the good limits and receptive fish from day 1 were replaced by scattered and spooked schools that had the pros now searching to land their 3-fish limit!
The closest challenger to Viator after day 1, Gary Moreno saw his weight dropping from 20.40 on day 1 to just 11.73 on day 2 for a total 2-day weight of 32.13 landing Moreno in 3rd place for the tournament.
Victoria Texas pro Mark Robinson made a big move weighing in 19.20 on day 2 bettering his day 1 weight of 16.84 pounds by almost 3 pounds. “It was a good day, I went from thinking maybe I can still make a good show to man 1 more good fish and I can win this thing.” Robinson told the great audience gathered again at the SALT club on Pleasure Island for the weigh in and those watching the weigh in live online. Mark finished the event with an impressive 2nd place finish in his first event in the new Tidewater Boats 25’ Raptor.
When local pro Tony Viator hit the stage on Championship Saturday he did it in fine fashion and with the kicker fish he had been searching for the entire tournament; a 9.65-pounder would overtake Moreno’s 9.37 pounder and seal the deal for Viators $10,000.00 win and title of Elite Redfish Series Solo Champion. “It was a great day,” Viator excitedly told the crowd which now included 32 kayak pro teams that weighed in after the conclusion of the solo tour’s final day. Tony went on to thank his sponsors and then shared his victory stage side with peers, fans and well-wishers for quite a while after the final fish was weighed.
All in all it was another great event presented and hosted by the Port Arthur CVB that found Stingaree pro, Tony Viator making a clean getaway with $10,000.00 which included the Brecknell Big Red Challenge check for his 9.65 day 2 giant. Viator also scored a pair of the coveted custom MX Trophies and other promotional prizes awarded to anglers finishing in the top 5. Second place was by Victoria Texas pro Mark Robinson who nearly came all the way back from a 3-pound deficit to take the win but fell just short. Mark took home $2,500.00 cash and 411 valuable angler of the year points heading into Kemah and the final tour stop in the regular season for the Elite Solo Tour pros. Finished out the top 5, 3rd place went to Gary Moreno, in 4th was Will Granberry, who continues to improve with each event in his rookie season on the Elite Solo Tour.
Finally, finishing in 5th and another top 5 was Bay St. Louis, MS pro Bo Favre. Bo was stuck and stranded on a mudflat most of day 1 and did not weigh a fish but never gave up and battled back on day 2 to weigh in 11.11 pounds to secure the 403 angler of the year points instead of the minimum of 300 he would have received had he not weighed in a fish. Great job Bo!
See more with complete story, event images and live weigh in video recap at eliteredfishseries.com.