The stage is set for fireworks

After contending with Saturday’s strong north winds, teams launched into a much calmer day with a light southerly breeze and a little more warmth. As redfishing goes, this is good stuff.

Given a beautiful palette for painting their Championship Sunday efforts, five teams recorded catches within the first hour of fishing — including Derek Hudnall and Ron Hueston who struck first and had two for 8 pounds.

Low tide was 6:51 at Port Aransas, with the next high at 11:30. Starting with low water means the redfish will be more concentrated in deeper areas, relevant to their specific habitat.

In the marsh, Thomas Barlow and Glenn Vann — second on Day 1 — reported finding more of their fish in the bayous than in the shallow inner ponds. On the broad, open flats, ditches and sand holes will be the deal.

Chris Zaldain and Ryan Rickard placed third on Days 1 and 2, but lamented a tougher second round, as the blustery north wind and high pressure seemed to push the baitfish and mullet off their main areas. That changed in the last hour and the anglers started seeing encouraging signs of activity.

Early this morning, Zaldain noted that the light ripple, low incoming water and abundant bait seemed to foretell good fortune.

“It’s like a new, fresh look on this flat,” Zaldain said.

In the first hour, Zaldain plucked a 4-pounder off their main flat. Around 8:30, Rickard added a game-changing 8 1/4-pound stud that had the seasoned redfish pro visibly giddy with excitement.

“This is exactly what we patterned late in the day Tuesday,” Rickard said of the day’s unfolding.

RedTrakk showed Zaldain and Rickard moving into the lead with 36-15. (Weights unofficial until weigh ins.)

Meanwhile, Bassmaster Opens pro Trait Zaldain and Matt McCabe quickly found two for 9-7.

Patrick Walters and Dwayne Eschete, who start the day in second, would probably prefer more wind, as Saturday’s blow helped the make faster, more efficient drifts. This team has displayed great chemistry this week and they will likely find the higher water bringing greater opportunity.

Leaders Travis Land and Nicky Savoie hugged the east side of Matagorda Island and leveraged a protected shoreline in Mesquite Bay to sack up a Day-2 pair that went 14-8. They sight fished their reds as they rose onto a shallow flat to feed and they’re back on that pattern today.

Land said he’s hoping they can find the school of larger fish that they found there during practice. Today’s conditions will afford them more flexibility of where they fish, while also offering ideal sight fishing conditions.

Across the board, Day 3 has served up the potential for fireworks. Expect lots of leaderboard movement and maybe a couple more hero moments.