NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. (April 17, 2018) – Gavin Billiot, of Hammond, Louisiana, measured a combined limit of 52.75 inches to win the first regular-season event for the 2018 Louisiana Division of the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour presented by Hobie Fishing on April 15 at Hopedale, Louisiana.
As many of the other kayak anglers did, Billiot directed his kayak towards the Hopedale dam- a pile of rocks blocking the MR-GO that serves as a natural bait attractant.
“I climbed over the rocks, pulling my kayak over right there in Hopedale,” said Billiot. “I fished along the rocks on the south shore. I worked that cut where there was grass and hooked a nice-sized red.”
After returning to the dam, Billiot boated a small trout on a soft plastic. With the need to improve his trout, Billiot made a change in tackle.
“I figured I would have to upgrade the trout to place well,” said Billiot. “He was only 13 inches. I started jigging Gulp! around the rocks and snagged my 23-inch trout. It started pulling drag and everything.”
With the intent of upgrading his redfish, Billiot dragged his kayak back over the rocks to fish the north side.
“On the back side of the rocks, there’s a bit deeper of a hole,” said Billiot. “But, there’s 1-2 feet waves smashing into those rocks. It was pretty rough trying to get back onto the kayak. I shut down around noon; I was tired of fighting the wind.”
Despite the Hopedale event being his first IFA Kayak Tour event and never upgrading his redfish, Billiot’s 52.75 inches was enough to take first place. The angler won $1,000 and a Power-Pole Micro Anchor for the victory and added $370 in Anglers Advantage cash along with the $100 Berkley Gulp! Big Trout award and $100 credit to Berkley’ website for catching his trout on Berkley Gulp!.
Second-place finisher Steve Neece, of New Orleans, Louisiana, measured a combined total of 51.25 inches to win $600. Neece also fought high winds fishing Berkley Gulp! at the Hopedale dam.
Previous IFA Kayak Tour Angler of the Year Matthew Vann, of Pensacola, Florida, measured a 31-inch redfish and a 17.75-inch speckled trout to take third place. As the others, Vann concentrated around the dam and had a tough day due to the winds. Vann won a total of $700, including $300 in Anglers Advantage cash.
The next stop for the IFA Kayak Tour is Georgetown, South Carolina, on April 29. Anglers who enter at least a minimum of two events and compete in at least one event will be qualified for the 2018 IFA Kayak Tour Championship.
The fastest-growing kayak fishing tournament trail in the country, the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour Presented by Hobie Fishing events are catch-photograph-release tournaments, offering inshore kayak anglers from a multitude of states the opportunity to participate in competitive fishing tournaments with low entry fees and minimal travel requirements.
IFA events are made possible through the sponsorship and continued support of these well-respected brands: Hobie Fishing, Ranger Boats, Cabela’s, Mercury Marine, Berkley Gulp!, Berkley Gulp! Alive!, PENN Reels, Spiderwire, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Power-Pole, Valley Fashions, T-H Marine, ATLAS, G-Juice, Navionics, Garmin, Powertex Group and Hopedale Marina.
IFA Kayak Tour – Louisiana Division
Hopedale, Louisiana (Top 10)
- Gavin Billiot – 52.75 inches
- Steve Neece – 51.25 inches
- Matthew Vann – 48.75 inches
- Steve Lessard – 48.00 inches
- Aaron Clay – 47.00 inches
- Benton Parrott – 45.75 inches
- Brandon Barton – 44.50 inches
- Anh Nguyen – 43.00 inches
- Collin Oliver – 41.50 inches
- Owen Caraway – 41.25 inches