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Sunday, July 21, 2019

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Yellowfin Elite Series coming to Lafourche Parish

Yellowfin Elite Series coming to Lafourche Parish

Some of the best redfish anglers in the country are going to try their luck in the fish-happy brackish waters of Lafourche Parish this weekend.
When it’s all said and done, the one who is crowned champion will walk away with $10,000 cash.

The Academy Sports and Outdoors Yellowfin Elite Series will hold the “Lafourche Open” this weekend in Leeville from Thursday, July 9, to Saturday, July 11, at Topwater Marina.

A total of 40 anglers will compete in an event which will pay out $10,000 to the winner and will be filmed, produced and aired on Destination America.
Anglers from all over the South will compete for the prize, but there will be locals on hand, too – many, many locals.

Paul Dufrene IV is the circuit’s 2014 Angler of the Year and fellow South Lafourche High School graduate Lance Reynolds has enjoyed big-time success, as well.

Raceland native Chad Billiot is also expected to compete in the weekend, which will mark the series’ final stop in Louisiana before heading out west to Texas to complete its season.

“It’s really a blessing,” Dufrene said of his opportunity to fish professionally in addition to his work at Dufrene Building Materials. “It’s a chance to stay competitive in something and we all have a lot of fun. … There’s a lot of strategy that’s involved. It’s more than just catching fish. It’s competitive, but it’s a blast.”

“What an awesome experience,” Reynolds added. “Coming from such a competitive background playing sports, red fishing allows me to continue this competitive nature against the very best that there is to offer.”

And this event will bring them all right here to the salty shores of Southeastern Louisiana.

The Yellowfin Elite Series has been rapidly growing and expanding throughout the past few years in the south. About five years ago, outdoorsmen and businessmen Pat Malone and Will Fowler, with HT3 Outdoors, decided to delve into redfish tournaments after previously doing bass fishing events.

There have been a few evolutions of the format and name changes along the way, but in 2014, the Yellowfin Elite Redfish Series was born, which is the circuit still in place today.

The rules of the tournaments pit one angler per boat in a head-to-head competition. When it’s all said and done for a given week, the person who logs the most weight within their string of fish is declared champion and given the prize money.

Over the long haul, anglers are given points based on how they finish, and the results of the Lafourche Open will count toward that tally in the 2015 season.

Since starting the Yellowfin Elite Series, countless local anglers have competed in the events – most of whom have competed favorably and have done our area proud.

At press-time, all of the top four anglers in the 2015 Yellowfin Elite Series points chase were from our bayou. Former NFL player and South Lafourche graduate Nicky Savoie holds the lead with 787 points, followed by Dufrene, Reynolds and Billiot, who lag back with 786, 782 and 769, respectively.

The series has become more popular than ever recently, including a glistening TV deal with Destination America, who will replay the Lafourche Open on tape delay.

Penalties are given to fishermen who weigh dead fish, and there’s a limit of five fish per day per angler.
All 40 fishermen will compete in the first two days of the tournament, but only the top tier will compete on Saturday – the day the champion is crowned.

Camera crews will be on-site for all three days, which promises to give locals a fishing experience like this area has never seen before.

The whole thing is considered amazing to those who do it. Both Reynolds and Dufrene said they never expected to fish professionally. But they love it.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to be considered a semi-pro angler,” Reynolds said. “I started fishing tournaments because of the competitive nature and opportunity to compete against the very best. Boy, has it been a fun ride so far.”

“It’s really something that’s memorable,” Dufrene added. “You get to know a lot of the other guys and you just make a lot of good memories. I’m really blessed for this opportunity, and I look forward to continuing in the future.”