Daily Limit: Redfishing with the Midnight Rider

7j0a9610.jpg-hudnall-and-heuston.jpg

Ron Hueston and Derek Hudnell brought in the biggest bag in the Bassmaster Redfish Cup.

PORT ARANSAS, Texas — If not for a poor start, the Midnight Rider might have rode off with the title in the Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter.

Capt. Ron Hueston is a longtime guide and successful tournament angler from Naples, Fla., where his Midnight Rider guide service puts clients on a multitude of species in the state’s southwestern fisheries. The name came from his affinity to night fishing for snook.

Hueston teamed with Bassmaster Elite pro Derek Hudnall in November to finish second in the Redfish Cup, and they might have won if not for a poor start. The teams had three days of practice, after which Hueston gave an assessment of his Louisiana partner’s redfishing prowess.

“Derek is clueless,” he said. “But he’s got the qualities. I tell the bass guys, you sight fish, you bed fish, you fish grass, you fish topwater, you fish everything we fish and your fishing ability is there. It’s just figuring out what the redfish do.”

Hueston takes some of the blame for not finding the bigger slot redfish on Day 1, when their team’s two fish only weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces to put them eighth in the 10-team field. But Hudnall got the hang of it, and they landed 13-5 on Day 2 to climb two spots. On Championship Sunday, they landed the biggest bag of the tournament at 18-3 to finish with 40-8, earning a pair 36-volt Lithium Pro Powerpack batteries worth $4,200.

The team didn’t go far, fishing grass flats and potholes near the Fisherman’s Wharf takeoff. Among their baits was traditional redfish lure, a 1/2-ounce gold spoon, but Hudnall said his Z-Man ChatterBait JackHammer with a Missile Bait Shockwave trailer was key.

“Those fish were feeding on little baitfish that were the same size as that ChatterBait with that Shockwave,” Hudnall said. “It was something I could make long casts with.”

A stealthy approach to the easily spooked bullies of the bay was one major lesson the six B.A.S.S. pros learned during the week. Elite Series pros placed in three of the top four spots, with Chris Zaldain teaming with Tampa’s Capt. Ryan Rickard to win.

Hueston, who also fishes bass tournaments in Florida out of the bay boat he runs for inshore species, said he finds transitioning from bass to redfish is a simpler task than the opposite.

“I believe bass is tougher,” he said. “For example, a bass guy will have 30 rods in his locker. Once you get locked into a pattern of redfish, whether it's grass edges, it’s deep water, it could be riprap, jetties, most redfish anglers only have a couple rods on the deck.”