After 16 years of close calls but no trips to the winner’s circle on the IFA Redfish Tour, Capt. Rob Beglin and Eric Gobbett decided to take a different approach.
For well over a decade, Beglin, of Pawleys Island, and Gobbett, of Georgetown, were ultra-intense while fishing in the series, beginning in 2004. The results were numerous top 10 finishes, but none in first place.
“We’ve learned over the last couple years to just go out there and let the cards fall where they may,” said Beglin. “We now just go out there and act like it’s a regular day of fishing.”
In the second tournament in the 2019 tour’s Atlantic Division out of Georgetown’s Carroll Campbell Marine Complex, the duo headed south to waters Beglin is familiar with through his Inshore Xtreme Fishing Charters.
Fishing on a rising tide, Beglin and Gobbett first worked grass banks along the Intracoastal Waterway south of Georgetown and then headed to a few spots farther south.
They wound up catching a total of 15 red drum using a Berkeley Gulp Pearl White shrimp and one of Beglin’s own concoctions, a homemade redfish magic lure - a spinnerbait tipped with a curly-tail Gulp grub.
Needing two large slot fish on the upper end of South Carolina’s 15 to 23-inch slot limit, the duo caught and placed in the live well redfish measuring 22 1/2 and 22 inches.
“We caught all our fish by 10 a.m. - as soon as the tide changed it just stopped,” said Beglin. “High (tide) was at 11.”
With the action now slow, Beglin and Gobbett decided to head back to Georgetown for an early weigh in.
“We were tired and headed on back,” said Beglin. “We were making a joke out of it. We said, ‘We know we’ll be leading if we weigh in first.’ We figured within five minutes we’d be gone. We’ve sat on top half a dozen times and got knocked down.”
The two reds weighed 4.27 and 3.76 pounds for a two-fish aggregate of 8.03 pounds.
“It wasn’t bad, but going from past tournaments we said ‘No way eight pounds is going to win it.’ We didn’t know it was that hard of fishing (for the field),” said Beglin. “Georgetown’s usually nine pounds (for the winner’s weight), especially this time of year.”
After weighing in their two fish, the duo sat back and watched the proceedings.
“I don’t know how many other teams weighed and we were still in first when everybody else had weighed, which was shocking,” said Beglin. “I told Eric ‘I can’t believe it actually happened.’ I said ‘It’s finally over. We were shaking, just disbelief.’ “
There was one very close call among the other 61 two-man teams that weighed in.
Hank Edwards of Darlington and Ian Matthews of Florence were just off the pace with a two-fish aggregate of 7.93 pounds and finished in second place.
A local entry, brothers Clay and Mark Gallup of Georgetown and Pawleys Island, claimed third place with a two-fish aggregate of 7.85 pounds.
Beglin, who is competing in the Redfish Tour event this Saturday in Houma, La., and Gobbett were fishing on the captain’s Ranger 191 Cayman, powered by a Yamaha 200.
They now have another Ranger at their disposal, a fully rigged Ranger RB190 powered by a 90-horsepower, four-stroke Mercury they were awarded for the win.
▪ IFA Kayak Tour: Dave Jaskiewicz of Wando won the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour event at Georgetown, held in conjunction with the regular Redfish Tour event.
Jaskiewicz fished his home area near Mt. Pleasant and finished with a combined 52.25 inches of spotted seatrout and red drum, including a large 23.5-inch trout.