GEORGETOWN, S.C. — Teamwork made the difference for Fred Myers III and Cody Chivas, who systematically executed a game plan that delivered a three-day total of 36 pounds, 7 ounces to win the Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter Boats at Winyah Bay.
Myers and Chivas turned in daily weights of 8-8, 12-6 and 15-9 — Championship Sunday’s biggest bag — and won by a margin of 1-7 over Elite Redfish Series pros Travis Land and Jeremy Reeves. They won the $75,000 top prize and an automatic invitation to the 2024 event.
“This means the world to us,” Myers said. “I follow a couple of close friends of mine that fish the Bassmaster Elites and to be here on their stage, in their atmosphere, it’s just awesome to compete at this level.”
The tournament included a 10-boat field with a mix of championship-caliber professional redfish teams along with four all-star teams featuring Bassmaster Elite Series pros paired with redfish pros.
Hailing from of Panama City, Fla., and Indian Shores, Fla., respectively, Myers and Chivas qualified for this week’s event through the 2023 Redfish World Series Championship Sept. 27-30 in Lake Charles, La. Chivas said claiming back-to-back wins was overwhelming.
“We came off another big win before we came here, and we were driving home from (the Redfish World Series Championship) trying to figure out what we were going to do,” Chivas said. “This is as good as it gets.”
Myers and Chivas spent most of the tournament working around a marsh island south of takeoff. Dialing in the island’s sweet spots daily, the anglers caught the majority of their fish on popping cork rigs with Berkley Gulp! Shrimp on 1/8-ounce ball-head jigs.
On Days 1 and 2, Myers also used a 4-inch Saltwater Assassin Elite Shiner swimbait rigged weedless on a 4/0, 3/16-ounce belly-weighted hook to target fish over oyster bars.
“We used 25-pound AFTCO Saiko Pro 100% fluorocarbon for leaders on our popping cork rigs, and that is the strongest fluorocarbon I’ve ever used,” Chivas said. “Today, I had a fish completely (entangled) in the marsh grass and I was able to pull him out. I don’t think I could have done that with any other 25-pound fluorocarbon.”
The tournament format allowed anglers to keep redfish measuring between 17 and 23 inches. Each angler could weigh in up to two fish per day for a total of four fish per team. After catching only half a limit on Day 1, Myers and Chivas connected the key details and filled their four-fish limits on the second and final days.
“What we learned was that when you get a bite, you have to get right back in there,” Chivas said of casting discipline. “These tides move so fast here that the bite windows are really short.”
Chivas referenced Winyah Bay’s huge tidal swing of 5 to 7 feet, which is created by the Georgia Bight — a large coastal indentation starting around Cape Hatteras, N.C., and extending to Cape Canaveral, Fla. With rising tides moving farther inward, water piles high and then recedes at a rapid pace.
By comparison, last year’s event in Port Aransas, Texas, saw tides of 1 to 1 1/2 feet.
Given this challenging tidal scenario — accelerated by the influence of Saturday’s full moon — most teams struggled to find “slot” fish. Like their competitors, Myers and Chivas had little trouble getting bites, but picking off legal catches amid the many “shorts” and “overs” required patience and persistence.
“There was one key to targeting those slot fish — you gotta have numbers and you’ve got to be able to go through those fish and keep going, keep going, keep going because each one is a clue,” Myers said. “We’d catch a bunch of unders and then we’d catch an over, then another over and another over.
“On (Saturday), I caught eight overs, but that made us stay there. Today, we Power-Poled down in a place right after Cody had caught two good ones. I caught a 4-pound slot fish right after I had just caught about 12 shorts. Then we went around the corner, and I caught another slot fish that sealed the deal.”
Hailing from Sequin, Texas, and Orange, Texas, respectively, Land and Reeves finished second with 35 pounds. A lean first round left them with a lone slot fish that weighed 3-7. But with half of the field blanking, they placed fourth.
Land and Reeves rebounded with a Day 2 limit of 16-6 — the event’s heaviest bag —and moved into second. The Texas duo added a final-round limit of 15-3.
“We stuck with our game plan,” Land said. “We were fishing oyster points with water moving over the top of them and (drains) every 25 to 50 yards. We stayed on those all day long.”
Using the same mix of baits that fueled their Day 2 surge, Land and Reeves caught their fish on Berkley Gulp! Shrimp and Paddle Tail Minnows on 1/4-ounce jigheads and a 5-inch Berkley Hollow Belly swimbait rigged weedless on a 1/4-ounce jighead.
“We really needed to make long casts, but the retrieve was the biggest thing to us,” Reeves said. “If you bounced that lure and the fish was anywhere close, he was going to spook. You had to glide that bait slowly and methodically over that oyster bar or over that sand to get that fish to bite.”
Elite Redfish Series pro Dwayne Eschete from Lake Jackson, Texas, and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Drew Cook from Cairo, Ga., finished third with 29-5. Eschete and Cook got off to a blistering start by catching the first round’s only limit — a bag of 16-4 that nearly doubled Myers and Chivas’s starting effort.
The anglers got most of their Day 1 weight in a protected lagoon with a low bridge challenging their entry on the morning high tide and then hastening their falling-tide exit. They would finish the opening limit on a marsh island edge.
Eschete and Cook struggled the next two days with one 3-2 fish on Day 2 and two fish for 9-15 in the final round. Berkley Gulp! Shrimp on 1/4-ounce jigheads produced all of their fish
The 2023 Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter Boats was hosted by Georgetown County, S.C.
2023 Redfish Cup Championship Title Sponsor: Yamaha
2023 Redfish Cup Championship Presenting Sponsor: Skeeter Boats