by Gritter Griffin
The Three Pillars – The Redfish World Series and all its components is specifically created to:
I have said it before, and I’ll say it here again – I want to change this sport and this industry for the better. I have a dream of a true professional level sport with a robust and vigorous endemic and non-endemic industry following. This inaugural event was all about the creation of a new level of competition and exposure that establishes a marketplace for anglers and industry alike to promote their skills and products respectively to a growing fan base.
June-September 2019: Anxiety, stress, angst, apprehension, unease, worry, anguish, fear and more; so much more.
These emotions, feelings, and – yes – fears, dominated my world for several months in 2019 as I raced headlong into the abyss of the unknown. I had tasked myself with producing an unprecedented event – the Redfish World Series. And then, to further complicate the matter, I added a Pageant, a Festival, and a Banquet to the to-do list. I had, by wanting to build something very special, created a quagmire of entangled complications that I wasn’t at all certain how to navigate. But I was determined to do so.
I am a man that generally fears little and takes on much with the confidence that if I don’t know what to do or how to do it I can figure it out pretty quickly. That was the case in 2019 – in spades!
I wasn’t too terribly concerned about the tournament itself. I have competed in so many venues over so many years that I knew, if I could obtain the right equipment and a few key personnel, the tournament would run well. But I wanted more then “well”. I wanted perfect. Actually, I wanted unique, special, spectacular, AND perfect. I knew that I had come up with a unique format. And I knew I had come up with a special field of competitors. But there needed to be more. There needed to be a distinctive way to stage the event and to present the event to the competitors. I had to find a way to celebrate the accomplishments of the anglers and then present them to the world so they could be seen and celebrated as the first-class group they are.
The Celebration Banquet
The Banquet was designed to showcase and honor the participating anglers as well as the sponsors of the event. In my mind this part of the event was the actual face of the World Series. It would be here, within the confines of this two-hour show, that everyone would get a glimpse of the class and pageantry inherent in a world class event. It would be here that they could see, hear, and experience the overall vision for the future of the Redfish World Series and for competitive redfishing.
I wanted the sponsors to be able to meet and greet the anglers and vice versa. I wanted to showcase the people of the parish and expose St. Bernard parish as the redfish capital of the world. I wanted to produce a one-of-a-kind, first class, banquet event as an example to the rest of the angling community and the entire industry that competitive redfishing is legitimate and that this arena can be a valuable component of a company’s marketing arsenal.
It worked. This small part of the entire World Series became the centerpiece, the stand-alone success, that it was designed to be. Never again will it be acceptable to have a production of anything less. Never again will the top anglers in this sport be taken for granted. Never again will the competitive redfish industry be the same.
The big screen bump tank.
This innovation has been in my mind for a long time and it is long overdue. The setup is simple enough. A live feed camera structurally mounted directly over the measuring board with the live video stream going to a big screen monitor(s). Yes, the setup was simple, but the results were dramatic. No longer did anglers at the bump tank or waiting in line wonder about what was going on at the bump station. No longer were there rumors of special treatment or letting a fish that was fractionally over the line “slide” on through. No longer was there any mystery about a fish being qualified because everyone got to see the actual measuring event taking place in real time. Total transparency!
Extra Gasoline Tanks
If the Coast Guard doesn’t have a problem with it, why should I? Who cares how far anglers run to find those perfect fish. There is inherent risk in that proposition and if it’s a strategy and risk undertaken to win a World Championship then so be it – well played I say.
Floating creel limits.
This is just another idea that is long overdue. In every event I have ever fished the rules state that we must adhere to all local, state, and federal laws. Then there’s another rule that says anglers can only possess the “weigh-in creel limit” on their boat at any time during the day. That has always seemed strange to me. If the state law says five fish per angler can be on the boat at any given time, then I don’t see anything wrong with holding up to that many. As long as there is the capacity to keep the fish healthy then I see no reason that anglers cannot carry up to the legal limit of fish onboard their boat. It is simply another strategic risk because if a fish dies it cannot be culled.
Oh yes, the tournament rules certainly dictate the daily creel limit that can be brought to the dock for the weigh-in. But it makes much more sense, particularly from a competitive viewpoint, to “take some of these fish for ride” while continuing to flesh out the tournament strategy for that day. No laws broken. No fish damaged. Resources intact. Conservationists win. Anglers win. Competitive redfishing wins.
Four-day competition and Progressive Bag Limit
Nearly every redfish competition is based on a one-day or two-day event strategy with a fixed bag limit. This is necessary due to the very nature of the events and the competitors involved.
But the World Series needed to be different.
Because the World Series is the sole entity that develops, exposes, and celebrates a true Redfish World Champion it must be different. It must be unique. It must be more rigorous. It must be a test of both skill and strategy. And, most importantly, it must showcase honor, integrity, and respect on the playing field. These aspects are an integral component not only for the competitors and the event but for the environment, the local fishery, the local population, and the industry itself.
I wanted to create a competition that would be unique and extraordinary in every way. A format that would test the mettle, the intellect, the skill, the grit, and the fortitude of the best anglers in the world. A format that would encompass a four-day journey of the most rigorous test imaginable. A journey that would replace luck and happenstance with skill and strategy.
And it worked!
The four-day format along with the progressive bag limit created exactly the situation I was hoping to achieve. Nothing came easy. Nothing was a given. Strategy and skill, not luck, ruled the day.
Drive by weigh in with live video wall.
The creation of the Louisiana Redfish Festival with live bands, food vendors, carnival rides, midway, and festive atmosphere was specifically designed as a support structure for the Redfish World Series. The Top 12 – Gold Division – was given a police escort on Day 3 & Day 4 to the festival where the anglers were driven in their boats to stage front and center to weigh their catch for that day.
This drive by weigh in was utilized as a means to expose the top anglers and their sponsors to the local crowd and nationally via a live feed video circuit that let fans tune in on Facebook and YouTube. Additionally, a 10x20 foot live-feed video wall elevated at 24 feet high adjacent to the stage allowed all festival patrons and fans to see the action onstage as it unfolded during the final weigh-in.
Create positive change in competitive redfishing nationally.
One of the three structural pillars supporting the concept, formation, and structure of the Redfish World Series is to create and promote positive change in competitive redfishing participation and management. By all accounts this pillar was a resounding success.
Every redfish tour and event experienced an increase in participation in 2019 on a national level. The buzz in the redfish angling community has been nonstop since the inaugural event was unveiled. The chat rooms and social media are replete with the excitement of the first Redfish World Series and the anticipation of the upcoming event in 2020. Boat ramps, docks, taverns, restaurants, and everywhere anglers gather there is talk of redfish competition and the World Series.
Yes, the 2019 Redfish World Series was, by all accounts, a resounding success. For that, I am relieved and grateful beyond measure. I am indebted to the sponsors, the fans, the volunteers, the parish, and most of all, to the anglers who comported themselves in the most professional manner ever seen in this sport.
Yes, I am grateful. I am happy.
But I am not yet satisfied because I am driven to make it all bigger and better than ever before -
2020 is here!