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Penny Jones

Is your life too boring and dull? Are you looking for a way to add more stress? How about anxiety?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, ask your doctor if fishing  redfish tournaments is right for you.

Benny Sanchez is a salesman by day. If he doesn’t produce, his family doesn’t eat.

Kris Robert earns his living toting clients, many of whom don’t even know how to hold a reel, to fishing grounds that can be as fickle as Taylor Swift’s love life.

None of that is apparently enough pressure, so on six weekends a year, the two anglers team up to find redfish, lure them to bite and bring them back to the scales fully alive in a sport where tenths of a pound define the difference between winners and losers.

They fish the state-run  Louisiana Saltwater Series, a tournament trail in the Bayou State marshes that attracts anglers from across the Gulf Coast. The object for the one-day events is to bring in the two heaviest redfish so they may be weighed, tagged and released. Anglers compete to win back their own entry fees plus a portion of those paid by other competitors. Prizes vary according to how many teams enter each tournament.

Sanchez and Robert can get enough of the sport.

“I love the competition and the camaraderie,” Sanchez said. “It’s just a thrill. I love the hunt of the actual fish on game day. Who can be the best that day? A lot of people can catch great fish two days before, but who can do it on the day of the tournament? Who can withstand the pressure?

“That’s really what drives me. I still get butterflies the morning of every tournament.”

Stomach flutters notwithstanding, the team is remarkably good at it. This season, they won one tournament and placed in the top 10 in three others to pocket $4,260 plus a $5,000 check for earning team-of-the-year honors.

Their consistency in participation propelled them into the series championship tournament. Held Friday and Saturday, it is the trail’s only two-day event. Believe it or not, Vegas didn’t publish a line on the Louisiana Saltwater Series Championship Tournament, but if they did, Sanchez and Robert would have held among the shortest odds.  Read more…