The Third Annual Adventure Fishing World Championship (AFWC) is officially in the history books. Though young in years, the AFWC has built a reputation as one of the most challenging tournaments, not only testing anglers fishing skills, but also requiring anglers to navigate between checkpoints in the quest to obtain score-able fish at a mandatory three locations. Add unpredictable weather and for most, unfamiliar, expansive marsh, and you’ve got an adventure!
For the third year in a row my teammate, and the second half of Team Get:Outdoors, Nathan Raycroft and I had time to kill during our 14 hour travel from North Carolina to Delacroix Louisiana. How do you pass the time?, a sing-a-long just seemed right.
Arriving in Delacroix (del-ah-crow) late Wednesday, we setup camp at Delacroix Lodge with our Native peeps, the Lozier’s. Thursday morning we eased our kayaks into the canal, adjacent to the tournament launch location of Sweetwater Marina, hoping to get a feel for the surroundings and what the fish were interested in. Delacroix didn’t disappoint. On my first cast a small Speck inhaled a jerk bait.
Being that Delacroix is only 30 minutes from downtown New Orleans, we couldn’t pass up a quick evening trip to Bourbon Street. Somethings seen there just can’t be unseen, so after an $18 shrimp po-boy and an $8 beer, topped off with a trio of beignets, we rolled back to camp to prep for Friday. Higher winds met us soon after launching for a short and last time before tournament day. Venturing out a little further into the marsh, we found a few Reds in the highly stained, low salinity waters, due to the release of an abundant amount of fresh water from levee’s North of us.
Not wanting to wear out our aging butts, we came in early to final prep and check-in at tournament headquarters. Much of pre-toruney buzz was focused on the weather. A strong cold front was set to push trough Friday night, bringing winds from 16 mph.
Come game day, the front that was supposed to pass through Friday night stalled, admittedly causing some anxiety as to the how the weather would factor into the strategy for the day. At the launch, anglers staged in random numerical order, waiting to receive their map packets, storm clouds were clearly visible to the North. Once maps were unveiled it was almost like Noah’s Ark, anglers shuttling two-by-two to the ramp, all the while keeping an eye on the approaching storm. Within 10 minutes of arriving at our first checkpoint the once still atmosphere literally blew up making communication between teams difficult. Rolling whitecaps made crossing shallow flats difficult with the bottom of our kayaks randomly pounding the mud underneath us. If that weren’t enough, driving rains soon followed. At this point, we’re thinking what else are we gonna have to deal with? At the same time I’m thinking, at least there’s no lighting, swarms of locust or fireballs shooting out of the devils behind, yet anyway! For most anglers, especially kayak anglers, not many would choose to fish in these conditions, requiring a certain spirit of determination to keep going. Conditions were adverse but not to a point of being unsafe to continue, though two teams make the decision to head in early.
Winds were quartered to our backs as we set off to our second checkpoint, at times requiring us to use our paddles in addition to our rudders to combat the high gusts. We relied on GPS and aerial maps for navigational guidance. Even with these aids there can be some uncertainty as often it’s hard to judge where cuts and channel lines actually are. The long channel leading down to Little Lake Batola provided some relief from the wind and a chance to talk to on another. Three-quartes of the way down we encounter a rock wall/wood levee. Within sight beyond the wall I could clearly see the checkpoint flag we were after. A cut into the marsh on the left likely was a way around the wall but with the flag in sight it seemed quicker to haul over the wall than go around it.
We weren’t catching large fish but we were catching fish, giving us a chance of completing the challenge. Considering the time left as we motored to our third checkpoint, worth double points. We had a slight break from the prevailing winds by following close to the marsh line, a welcome relief. As we arrived at our destination the clouds began to break and a hint of sun and less wind seemed to welcome us, as well as Andy, our trusty token dispenser.
It took us a little longer than the previous areas to land a fish, another not so large Red. With approximately three hours left before check in we decided the best strategy was to try to best a larger fish here due to it being worth double length. Time seemed to pass slowly, and we were only able to improve by 1/2″.
In the end we didn’t officially win, yet in a way I feel like we won despite coming in 26th out of 54 and so should everyone who competed and finished with a completion. It was a tough day and a true test of your sense of adventure and determination. Congratulations to Team Chasing Tail, Jeremy Carson and Cody Phillips, for taking home the official trophy and prestige of besting a group of solid anglers.
No tournament happens without some backbone and for that thanks go to the tournament organizers, John Grace and Co., volunteers and sponsors who made it all happen.
AFWC Official Video
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