Skip to main content

Day 2 Inshore Challenge: Driving Drum Beat

Wallflower species leads Thomason and Hartsell to Inshore Challenge win

Day 2 Inshore Challenge: Driving Drum Beat
Day 2 Inshore Challenge: Driving Drum Beat


HOPEDALE, La. – If one species defines Louisiana’s bountiful inshore fishery, it is the redfish. However, when the Outdoor Channel brought its Saltwater Series Inshore Big Fish Challenge to the Mississippi Delta town of Hopedale, it was the red’s homely cousin that delivered the victory for Capt. Charlie Thomason and Keith Hartsell.

Eligible species were speckled trout, jack crevalle, redfish and black drum. After placing second on day-one with a total weight of 189.25, buoyed by 126.25 pounds of black drum, Thomason and Hartsell decided to put the pedal to the medal and work where they knew they’d find the meat. Committing their entire day to hunting big schools of black drum, the winners amassed a 326.25-pound day-two score that lifted their tournament total to a dominant 515.50.

Tournament format allowed natural and artificial baits and while opinions varied on the best tactics, the winners decided that feeding the fish what they were already eating – live shrimp – was the surest route to success. Moreover, Thomason said that taking a break from the often grueling routine of all-lure tournaments he and Hartsell typically fish was a pleasant change of pace. Capping the premise, he said, the winning tactics carried a solid user-friendly element that makes it easy for others to replicate.


“This tournament was all about biggest fish, biggest weight and catch ‘em anyway you can,” Thomason said. “That’s the fun part. We could have caught them on artificials – maybe not as many – because I catch them here all the time on artificial. But I thought it was interesting that we were able to catch them on something that’s accessible across the entire Gulf Coast, and when people see how we did it, they’ll have the ability to go out and do the exact same thing on their own.”


Thomason, who’s Silver Side Lodges hosted the event, said that he and his partner spent most of their day in the Lake Calabasse area and worked depths of 2-3 feet with live shrimp on 3/8-ounce jigheads. They fished with medium-heavy baitcasting outfits spooled with 30- and 50-pound braid and 30-pound fluorocarbon leaders.

Drum made a sensible target for a couple of reasons. First, they travel in large schools where feeding competition runs high. Anything edible that falls within sniffing range won’t be long for this world. Also, the cold front that arrived two days before the event made the other three species far less cooperative than normal. Meanwhile, the durable drum continued to chew.

As Hartsell noted, the week’s warming trend saw shallow water temperatures rising and that made the drum even more eager to graze. “Every day this week, we gained a couple of degrees and the fishing just got better and better. I think we were up to about 75 degrees by the end of the (fishing) day.”

Holeman’s Settle at Second


After leading day one with 207.5 pounds of black drum and redfish, Florida brothers Travis and Bryan “Bear” Holeman added another 139.50 pounds and slipped to second with a two-day total of 347. They, too, targeted black drum, but their catch also included a redfish.

“We were looking for the drum today because that’s where the weight was,” Travis Holeman said. “At one time, we had two fish on that together would have been close to 85 pounds. Unfortunately, mine came off. It was huge – over 50. It was a giant.”

Bryan Holeman, who boated his fish added: “The one I caught was 38. I waited to throw at this one because we were trying to get the big one to eat. He kept turning away from the bait. Finally, Travis stuck him and I made a shot and hooked mine. The fish were right there next to one another and the other one was so much bigger than mine.”


The Holemans caught most of their fish on spinnerbaits with minnow trailers in purple with green and blue flake and chartreuse tail. Travis also threw the same minnow tail on a ¼-ounce jighead.

“Even if we had capitalized 100 percent across the board, Charlie and Keith just smoked ‘em,” Travis said. “They were on the meat and that was a smart move.”

Fishing a far outside bay by the Gulf edge, tide stage played a big role for the Holeman brothers. The water started falling around 9:30 so Bryan said their best action came between 10 a.m. and noon.

“Once the water dropped out of the grass and cleaned up a little bit so we could see, that gave us about a 30-yard window off the bank where it was clean,” Travis said.

Watts Place Third

Also hailing from the Sunshine State, Greg and Bryan Watts added another 37 pounds to the 148.5 they weighed on day one and ended in third place with 185.5 pounds. Despite the better conditions of day two, the Watts brothers struggled to locate fish and ended up running to the Chalmette area. Ultimately, much of their day boiled down to a lot of running and too little catching.

“We got out on the spot where we caught those big drum and redfish yesterday and we lived there for an hour and a half and saw completely nothing,” Greg said. “Then the tournament mentality kicks in and you think ‘I’ve got to make it happen. I can’t sit here and wait on it. I have to go.’

“So, Bryan and I took off. For two hours we ran south and west back up through the marsh. We were hunting numbers. Give me two or three ponds with 100 fish in each and we’ll pick through them. But it never happened. The water was dirty with that east wind. Everywhere we went, the water was as dirty as I’ve ever seen the Chalmette marsh.”

The Watts brothers caught mostly redfish and one trout on Berkley Gulp! shrimp on Bass Assassin jigheads.

“We have no regrets,” Greg said. “This was a great tournament with a great format. We love everybody here and we love being here. I hope we get to do it again.”

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Get on Board: Species for Beginner Anglers

Get on Board: Species for Beginner Anglers

With so many people turning to fishing as a way to escape the stress and challenges that have arisen in recent months, we've teamed up with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation and the National Marine Manufacturers Association to explore some of the freshwater fish species you can target if you're just getting on board with fishing. #TheWaterIsOpen #GetOnBoard

Tackle Test 2020: Eagle Claw EC2.5 Spinning Reel

Tackle Test 2020: Eagle Claw EC2.5 Spinning Reel

Tackle Test 2020: Eagle Claw EC2.5 Spinning Reel

Hobie Pro Angler 14 With 360 drive

Hobie Pro Angler 14 With 360 drive

Human-powered serious fishing kayak; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Yo-Zuri Hardcore NOI-Z Wakebait and Crank Series

Yo-Zuri Hardcore NOI-Z Wakebait and Crank Series

FLW Pro Circuit angler Spencer Shuffield tells Florida Sportsman executive editor Jeff Weakley that there are two new offerings from Yo-Zuri that take full casting distance advantage of the company's patented Magnetic Weight Transfer system. One of those new baits is the Hardcore NOI-Z wakebait, a hinged lure that uses a hard-knocking rattle, a rear prop and a feathered treble hook to draw ferocious strikes. The other is the redesigned Hardcore Crank 2+, 3+, and 4+ series, which can be cast a country mile, bounced off of cover, and retrieved silently to lure high-pressured bass into striking.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river.How to Catch Catfish Day and Night Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing.Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters really stand out for monsters.The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish Catfish

The South's Best Waters for Trophy Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 21, 2020

Anglers can find catfish in practically any freshwater system in the South, but some waters...

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers Striper & Hybrid

3 Proven Bait Rigs for Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use these proven bait rigs for stripers.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

That one little thing we don't think about while on the water, it's what separates the men from the boys.Tough Fishing Lessons Learned – The Landing Part Stories

Tough Fishing Lessons Learned – The Landing Part

Jeff Johnston - September 14, 2020

That one little thing we don't think about while on the water, it's what separates the men...

An hour here, 30 minutes there, 10 casts after work; sometimes that's all it takes.Perspective: Satisfy Fishing Passion When You Can Stories

Perspective: Satisfy Fishing Passion When You Can

Adam Heggenstaller - June 24, 2020

An hour here, 30 minutes there, 10 casts after work; sometimes that's all it takes.

Pan-friend slabs may not sound like a holiday meal, but as a celebration of Mom's life it was my most memorable Christmas dinner ever.Crappie for Christmas: The Fondest of Childhood Memories Stories

Crappie for Christmas: The Fondest of Childhood Memories

Keith Sutton - December 19, 2018

Pan-friend slabs may not sound like a holiday meal, but as a celebration of Mom's life it was...

Cabela's agrees to be bought by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at $5.5 billion that will combine the top two hunting and fishing retailers in the United StatesBass Pro Shops 'Reels In' Cabela's with $5.5 Billion Deal Stories

Bass Pro Shops 'Reels In' Cabela's with $5.5 Billion Deal

Abhijith Ganapavaram and Sruthi Shankar

Cabela's agrees to be bought by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at $5.5 billion that will...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now