Local fishing guide and competitive angler Tony Gaskin won round two of the Elite Fishing League Tournament at the Silver Slipper Casino in Bay St. Louis Mississippi on June 8.
The victory means Gaskin will be in the final championship round where the winner gets $100,000.
Elite Fishing League is the highest level of competition for Professional Anglers. The reality-based series pits the best anglers from across the United States in a fierce fishing competition.
Anglers have no prior knowledge of where they are heading out to fish and are only provided with competition specific fishing boundaries the morning of the tournament.
Competitors must negotiate and avoid penalties for mishaps enforced by a tournament official and camera man, who is on board filming the competition. The on-board referee records each catch throughout the day on a nationwide score tracker system.
It was a back-and-forth battle against Texas Angler Chuck McKinny and three other top ranked anglers. With only 2.70 lbs. separating the two anglers this is the closest finish to date in the EFL. Gaskin hit the Score Tracker early and was the first of the five anglers to post a catch at 4.90 pounds after serving a two-minute penalty for breaking off his first hook up on a Redfish.
Gaskin briefly held the lead only to lose it to McKinny who answered with two Redfish well over eight pounds each. McKinny would extend his lead over Gaskin of sixteen pounds, closing out the first period for a mandatory lunch break.
In the second of two four-hour fishing periods, Gaskin was coming on strong and closed the lead to three pounds, eventually taking the lead for the win. One scorable fish which must weigh at least three pounds would have changed the outcome of who was crowned the Champion. In the late stages as time was running out both anglers had a chance to add to their score. With twenty minutes to go McKinny had the winning fish hooked only to come unbuttoned before he got it to the boat.
Gaskin had a similar issue with two minutes to go before the tournament ended as he desperately tried to increase the lead he acquired earlier in the day.
Gaskin said it took a while before he realized he was the winner for the day. During the post tournament interview Gaskin thanked his brother, girlfriend, friends and sponsor and said,” This trophy has their name on it.”
The win netted Gaskin a cash prize and sends him straight to the televised Championship where six anglers will compete head-to-head for the grand prize of $100,000 and overall EFL Champion. The competition will play out in a reality-based series on the Discovery Channel in early fall.
The tournament has well-known anglers including last years’ winner Paul Dufrene who is coming back to compete in two elimination rounds to occupy the two final spots.