Now in its 15th year, the De Soto Fishing Tournament will once again be hosted at the Bradenton Yacht Club from July 8-10. It’s all about quality, and anglers will try to upstage each other with their best catches of six fish.
Offshore boats can leave after the Friday captain’s meeting, while inshore boats will begin fishing after a shotgun start Saturday morning.
While offshore anglers get the glory at the weigh-in with huge fish coming to the scales, inshore anglers are grinding away in what is considered a fishing marathon in the July heat.
Competing inshore is grueling, and anglers often are unable to get out of the sun on smaller boats needed for flats fishing. Those fishing through the night will be sleep-deprived come Sunday afternoon.
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“When it comes to sleep, you better get that in during the week. Unlike most eight-hour tournaments that are sprints, this is a 32-hour marathon,” says Capt. Brett Norris of Team Rock Bottom.
“It’s also one of the most competitive tournaments on the west coast, bringing people of all ages for the coveted glass trophy and that $5,000 check. If you’re looking for a laid back tournament, this isn’t for you. Our motto has always been, ‘You can sleep after the tournament is over.’”
This dedication has worked for Capt. Norris and his team, winners of the 2005, 2006 and 2009 De Soto tournaments.
What brings the level of competition up for the De Soto is the eligibility of guides combined with the guaranteed money. While the average angler is on the water maybe once or twice a week, guides like Capt. Norris spend their time constantly on the water and on top of fish.
“As a full-time guide, I’m always on the water. Our team generally will pre-fish the week before, using mainly our eyes to locate rather than our hooks. Pre-fishing is key to developing a game plan, but when it comes to overnight tournaments you never truly know what to expect,” said Norris, who also has fished in the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series and FlatsMasters tournaments.
This year, Norris says everything has changed compared to past years.
“Fishing has been sporadic this year, and the last year’s pattern can pretty much be thrown out the window. Fish have been moving constantly, and the weather conditions have made it difficult to stay on top of them.
“Although our snook fishing hasn’t been what it was a few years back, they are finally starting to show in our passes and river mouths from Longboat Key to Clearwater Pass.”
So do you think you can put together a good catch and compete in this tournament? There is still time to enter this week. For details and rules, visit www.desotofishing.com. The weigh-in will start at noon July 10.
If you’re interested in fishing with Capt. Brett Norris, he can be reached via his website, www.rockbottomsportfishing.com, or at (727) 512-4415. Just don’t expect him to share any secrets this week!