Brandon resident Ryan Rickard recently won the Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter in November in Port Aransas, Texas.
“I have loved fishing since my dad first introduced me to it when I was 4 or 5 years old,” Rickard said. “I would fish any chance I could since then. Especially in my teen years, whether it was in a neighborhood pond around Providence Lakes or Sterling Ranch or at Courtney Campbell Causeway and around Tampa Bay.”
Rickard had fished recreationally for years, and then a friend of his asked him if he wanted to start fishing tournaments around Tampa Bay.
“He asked me in 2008 and I’ve never stopped since,” Rickard said. “I have also been a licensed charter captain since 2014.”
The Bassmaster recently decided to revive its Redfish Cup event from years ago. It selected 10 teams to compete for a prize of $50,000. Six of the teams were a combo of an all-star bass angler and a redfish pro angler, with the other four teams being redfish pro teams that qualified through the Elite Redfish Tournament Series and Power-Pole Pro Redfish Tour.
“I was invited by Skeeter/Yamaha to compete and was paired with seven-time Bassmaster Classic qualifier Chris Zaldain,” Rickard said. “Chris lives in Fort Worth, Texas and also received an invite from Skeeter/Yamaha to compete, and we met for the first time a couple days before the event. We had three days before the tournament to pre-fish and then we had to be off the water completely on afterwards. I had only been to Port Aransas once a month or so before for another tournament, and Chris had never been there, so we had to go out and learn the water and pattern the fish from scratch.”
Each day of the tournament, teams could bring in two redfish that were between 20 and 28 inches long.
“We were looking for the heaviest two fish we could catch each day, with the goal of having the heaviest total weight at the end of day three,” Rickard said. “We left the takeoff point at 6:45 a.m. and had to be back for weigh-in at 2:45 p.m. each day. The entire tournament was broadcast live on bassmaster.com and Fox Sports Digital.”
Rickard and Zaldain were thrilled to come in first place at the Bassmaster Classic.
“I have had fellow anglers tell me that when it’s your time to win one, everything will just go right and it will be a special day,” Rickard said. “I couldn’t have asked to be paired with a better partner in Chris Zaldain. When it was official, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the emotions and it took about a week for it to finally sink in. We were presented with a team Redfish Cup trophy that Chris let me bring home and we each received an individual trophy, and, of course, the main prize was a $50K check.”