James Jurica is our first ever Rey Del Salt, the Grand Champion of the first annual Rey Del Mar Kayak Fishing Tournament.

The tournament, hosted as a collaboration between ACK and Fin Factory Kayak & Tackle Co, was one of the first of its kind, including both inshore and offshore fishing on the same weekend, combining over all weight to crown the Rey Del Salt. Over 100 anglers competed throughout the weekend, but only one could be crowned Rey Del Salt!

Check out this quick interview with James!


Where are you from?

“I am from Missouri City, Texas.”

Kayaking experience?

“I started kayaking back in 2012. A friend introduced me who was using them to catch Big Sharks and Reds outside the Surf. It basically grew from there. If you want to catch big fish from a Kayak hitting the surf is the way to go. My first kayak was a Hobie Outback, six years and hundreds of miles later I’m still in a Outback.”

Why do you kayak fish?

“Living on the Gulf Coast your options are pretty much limitless, there are so many benefits that you get from Kayak fishing. You can basically fish anywhere you want Flats, Bay and Offshore. You can also fish as much as you want, versus the price of owning a boat combined with fuel. As much as I like to fish, it would get expensive quickly. I think it also sculpts you into being a better angler, or at least it has for me. I look back and laugh at how much I’ve learned since I picked up my first Kayak.”

Why did you sign up for Rey del Mar?

“I signed up because I’m always looking for an opportunity to go down and fish Corpus. I love fishing Offshore and since 2014, I’ve attended every Offshore Tournament in Corpus that I can.”

What were you looking to get out of the tournament?

“The way I look at Tournaments is that I’m getting a chance to fish coupled with the opportunity to win something cool. But to be honest it’s all about the fishing. I try to treat it as a normal trip with the exception that there will be a weigh in at the end of the day.”

What is what you enjoyed the most??

“Being with friends. I’ve met a lot of friends kayaking over the past few years. Asking anyone the camaraderie is great. Nothing better than seeing your buddy hook up on a good fish and be there to enjoy it with them. Sometimes its Shark or massive Stingray or a Tournament winning fish. Always an adventure when you get past the Breakers. The Captain bags and Pizza and Beer are tough to beat as well. You really get some cool swag in those Captains bags.”

Expectations before the tournament?

“Honestly, I always visualize myself placing. Not that has been the case in the past. But was expecting to catch a little bit bigger fish than everyone else. It was an expectation turned reality this go around.”

The fishing story?

“Well I came down to fish the Offshore leg of the Tournament mainly. Given the amount of structure and places to fish coupled with smaller fishing window due to inclement weather. My fishing partners and I decided to fish a spot that was known to produce the 3 fish that would go for the main weigh in, but also didn’t include covering excessive miles due to time constraints. On the day of the Offshore leg I knew the 2 main fish needed would be a Cobia and King Mackerel. So, my strategy basically involved bottom fishing structure trying to pick up a Cobia and freelining a bait as well to catch whatever happened to be strolling by.

I caught my first fish early trolling on the way out to the platforms. It was King Mackerel, with the bite being semi slow I put him in the bag just in case the King bite was nonexistent later. Once at the platforms I caught some live baits and focused on trying to catch a Cobia. It wasn’t till later in the morning that I would get my first big run of the day on my Freelined bait. It was a really solid Kingfish probably in the 45-47″ area. With conditions being the way, they were Offshore it was a really good fish and went into the bag. I continued my same strategy then about 45 minutes later received another massive run. This fish was a really smoker “heading out to sea” as I like to say. When I got the 3rd king up to the boat I noticed he was definitely an upgrade to my 2nd fish. Feeling pretty confident on my 3rd King I focused on bottom and structure fishing hard.

I did get one break off that I would like believe was a Cobia while fishing some structure, but you never know. To me that’s what makes Offshore kayak fishing so much fun, you just never know what you’re going to get hooked up on. So once at the weigh in, I was surprised when my Kingfish took the lead. No Cobias were caught.”

“However, one gentlemen managed to pull a 52” stud out of the Gulf which pushed me into Second. Once the final scores were posted not only was I in Second but both my buddies, Mike Flores and Jason Brown were in 3rd and 5th. It was very cool to share this experience with these Gentlemen. With our solid placement amongst the field, Mike Flores and I decided to Team up for the Inshore division with solid lead in weight.

Not knowing the bay system well in the Corpus area. Mike and I created a plan of attack to find our Redfish the next morning. Fishing the Galveston and Matagorda bay systems it took some adjustment to fish the clear waters found in the flats surrounding Corpus. It was a really tough morning. I worked a top water most the morning with a few trout to show for it. Mid-morning the Top water bite started to slowdown and I found myself trying to find a new strategy. I started drifting across the flat we were fishing and started to see schools of Tournament worthy Reds. I was having trouble getting them to eat. Regardless I kept grinding and on my third drift I landed my first Slot of the day. I spoke with my partner Mike, with our first Redfish of the Morning on the stringer, the pressure was slightly off and we both managed to catch an additional slot red a piece to add to the Stringer. Despite the tough morning we had 3 fish to bring into weigh in. Though our Reds were not enough to place on the inshore leader board, we had enough weight for me to secure the Overall lead and Mike my Safety buddy Offshore and Teammate Inshore to take Second.”

Who do you think this event is for?

“I think there is a little bit of everything for a Kayak Angler. Whether you’re an Offshore or Inshore Angler. Next year I’d like to think there will be a lot more Inshore guys fishing Offshore and more Offshore guys fishing Inshore. The format of this Tournament was the first I fished of its kind and to be honest, I was really challenged when it came to fishing the Inshore Division. But I believe that is what the Tournament Directors had in mind when they created this Tournament. It pushes Anglers that may be stronger in a certain field out of there comfort zone.”

Conclusion 

“This Tournament was really much more fun than what I thought it would be. There were some of the Best Kayak Anglers in Texas competing and to come out on Top makes it very surreal. I’d like to thank everyone who organized the Tournament. The events and prizes where top notch. I look forward to competing in future events.”