The most competitive saltwater fishing tournaments are when anglers are searching for the perfect size redfish.
While other tournaments, such as bass fishing in freshwater or kingfish for offshore anglers have no size limits, redfish tournaments require anglers to work within a tight range. Fish have to remain under a certain size limit, 27 inches in Florida, but weigh the most within that length restriction.
This means ounces make the difference, and the perfect size fish is thicker than average. An average Florida 26-inch redfish probably weighs about 6 to 6.5 pounds. A tournament winner is usually 7 pounds or heavier depending on the time of year.
For Capt. Todd Wynn, his recent catch became a bit of a viral sensation. He landed a 25-inch redfish that weighed more than 10 pounds. A Florida native who lived on both the east and west coasts of Florida, Wynn now resides on the coast of Georgia fishing around the Wilmington River.
While fishing a dock with a live shrimp, Wynn hooked the red and forced it away from the dock.
“We were what I call combat fishing,” he said. “We were tight to cover and I couldn’t really give it much or it would have broken me off.
“He seemed to be healthy other than the physical appearance,” which Wynn described as being almost a mix of a black and red drum due to it’s short and stocky look. It was released to live another day.
Wynn’s fish would be a dream come true to any tournament angler.
Last year, local angler Josh Bibler landed a similar fish while fishing Sarasota Bay intracoastal docks at night.
“It was during the Palmetto High School tournament. 26.5 inches and 9.5 pounds,” Bibler said.
That fish had a large back, but also had a unique wavy like pattern through the rest of the mass. It would also be a tournament winner for sure.
A quick Google search for “deformed redfish” shows it’s not completely rare for redfish to grow rather short and fat. A very eye-catching result from Louisiana shows one fish that looks more like mangrove snapper than redfish. It was reportedly 26.5 inches and more than 15 pounds.
Another very interesting result comes from North Carolina guide Captain Rennie Clark in a blog posting from June 23, 2012. Clark wrote “I caught a deformed fish that was 21 inches and shaped like a bass and 5.5 lbs.”
The picture of that fish looks eerily similar to the fish Wynn landed in Georgia, while being 4 inches smaller.
Either way, these rare one-off catches are ones each angler will never forget.
Source: U.S. Naval Observatory data