Outdoors

Fishing captain leads team to victory in Grand Slam tournament

The Steve Yerrid Grand Slam Fishing Tournament benefiting the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation is a yearly event bringing the area’s best captains out for a weekend of inshore fishing with proceeds going to research for childhood cancer.

A Friday event is also held at the docks of the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort where children who have battled or are currently battling cancer take in a few hours of fishing.

Capt. Chris Wiggins has been participating in the tournament, now in its 22nd year, for nearly as long as he’s been a guide on Tampa Bay waters.

“I can’t say enough about this great tournament,” Wiggins said. “It’s my favorite that I fish all year and it’s for a great cause.”

Participating captains like Wiggins had boats full of anglers who were fishing in search of the largest snook, redfish and trout slam last weekend. Over the course of the two fishing days, the longest fish in inches from each category would claim a prize as well.

On Saturday morning, Wiggins and his anglers dealt with a change of weather that made fishing tough. When they eventually found good fishing, it didn’t last for long as a storm forced them to leave.

“We were fishing a spot for trout that I usually fish in the winter,” Wiggins said. “Last year during the tournament we got a 21-inch trout. We pulled the hook on a big fish and then caught a nice 22-inch trout.”

“That’s when storms started to roll through and we left.”

With day one complete, Wiggins’ team still had a respectable 83-inch slam with a 31-inch snook, 22-inch trout and 30-inch redfish.

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Photo provided

Sunday’s second day brought better weather and more favorable tides for Wiggins.

“First thing in the morning we went to a spot where I needed low water,” Wiggins said. “We didn’t try it Saturday. On the first cast we hooked a fish. I saw it jump and I knew it was big!

“I loosened the drag since we were in the open. We took our time and got it in, a 40.5-inch snook!”

With snook out of the way, Wiggins headed to a St. Petersburg pass to search for big redfish. Once again he was greeted with a big fish, but this time it wasn’t quite a tournament species.

“We were fishing some rocks near the beach and threw out a big pinfish. It was eaten and the fish started peeling drag and I was hoping it was a huge redfish. That’s when about a 180-pound tarpon jumped. Pretty insane to hook a tarpon on the beach in almost November.”

The tarpon didn’t stay hooked for long, and Wiggins soon left.

He headed back to where they landed the big trout on Saturday. This time a huge 28-inch trout awaited them.

With their trout and snook taken care of, Wiggins went back in search of redfish. By the end of the day, he was able to upgrade the redfish to 34 inches. The team total measured a whopping 102.5 inches over the two day tournament!

“Everywhere I went that day everything went well. Usually we’ll lose good fish in tournaments. It’s so rare to get a 100-inch slam, especially in a tournament,” Wiggins said.

In addition to winning the slam, Wiggins team took home first place in the snook and trout divisions.

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