Eschete and Cook use day’s lone limit to take lead at Redfish Cup Championship

2023 Redfish Day 1 leaders.jpg
The all-star team of Drew Cook and Dwayne Eschete are leading after Day 1 of the 2023 Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter Boats on Winyah Bay with 16 pounds, 4 ounces.

Photo by Dalton Tumblin/B.A.S.S.

October 27, 2023

GEORGETOWN, S.C. — On a day marked by grueling leanness and treacherous tides, the all-star team of Elite Redfish Tour pro Dwayne Eschete and Bassmaster Elite Series pro Drew Cook executed perfectly and caught a four-fish limit of 16 pounds, 4 ounces to lead Day 1 of the Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter Boats at Winyah Bay.
The only team to catch their boat limit, Eschete and Cook topped second-place Fred Myers III and Cody Chivas by 7-12.
“The key to our area was deep water,” Cook said. “The fish could stay in there even when the tide dropped. We just had to know when to get out of there so we didn’t get stuck.
“We left them biting — that was so hard to do. But the tide was falling and we had to go.”
Eschete said marsh grass edges comprised their spot’s main habitat feature. As the morning’s high tide fell, the redfish pulled out of the cover and settled into a deeper trough adjacent to the vegetation. The leaders caught their fish on Berkley GULP! Shrimp on light jigheads.
“Once we got in there, it turned out really good because we probably caught 10 to 12 fish in that spot,” Eschete said. “The first fish we caught was our biggest one, so I was feeling pretty good.
“After that, Drew caught two fish back to back. Actually, he caught the second fish that we put in the boat while I was measuring the first fish. He caught his second fish, then the water started getting low and we were like, ‘Man, we need to get out of this creek.’”
After leaving their starting spot, the leaders found their fourth fish — Eschete’s second.
Tournament format allows anglers to keep redfish within South Carolina’s 17- to 23-inch slot limit. Each angler can weigh up to two fish per day for a total of four fish per team.
Cook, who placed third at last year’s event alongside Kevin Akin, said he’s found several similarities between bass and redfish. However, for a bass pro accustomed to seeking five keepers with constant upgrading effort, this year’s tournament format has taken some adjustment.
“I think I caught my second fish at 10:30, so I was done; I just sat there,” Cook said. “That was so hard to do. Whenever we got to another area, I couldn’t stand it. I was just throwing out in the middle and I actually caught a 19-incher that would have helped. Had he caught that one, we would have come in.
“Luckily, on his last cast, Dwayne caught a 22-incher, so it all worked out perfectly. Hopefully, tomorrow, we can get into our area and be able to stay in there a little bit longer. Maybe we can catch our four really quickly, and then we’ll just come in and eat pizza at the dock.”
Hailing from Panama City, Fla., and Indian Shores, Fla., respectively, Myers and Chivas are in second place with a two-fish bag that went 8-8. Targeting a small marsh island, the anglers expected to find the fish in a series of small depressions, but they actually found them on the perimeter.
“Right off the bat this morning, we caught a 15-inch fish and that kind of gave us a clue that they were not in the middle,” Chivas said. “We made a couple of laps around that island and caught a couple more fish — one was just a little too big.
“Then we went down a bank, worked that for about a quarter mile and caught probably 20 fish.”
Berkley GULP! Shrimp under popping corks did much of their work, but when Myers and Chivas found fish feeding over shallow oyster bars, a Bass Assassin jerkbait rigged weedless on a weighted wide-gap hook allowed them to fish right across the snag-prone structure.
“We caught so many fish, just a lot of little fish — 13 to 15 inches,” Chivas said. “We caught a few that were oversized. Fred caught a fish today that was a little over 6 pounds and it was 23 1/4 inches.
“That could have changed our whole weekend for us. It would be easy to get down about that, but we were around a lot of fish. We just have to get on a little roll tomorrow. This place is tough, but we’re gonna keep grinding and hopefully, we can catch ‘em.”
Aaron Salazar and Ben Human of Corpus Christi, Texas, are in third place with one redfish that went 4-3. After starting at the upper end of tournament waters and working their way south with the tides, Salazar and Human caught several fish that did not measure but found their critical keeper in the last hour of their day within sight of the check-in.
“We were fishing a deep bank with some flats, so we wanted to come back to that at the end of the day,” Salazar said. “We’ve caught fish on high tide and low tide (near the weigh-in site).”
A Berkley GULP! Mantis Shrimp fished on a 1/8-ounce jighead produced that lone keeper for Salazar and Human.
South Carolina’s high tides and perilous outgoing cycles created timing challenges for anglers who had to quickly identify bite windows and adjust on the fly. Moreover, the falling water, plus numerous bars made of soft, sticky “pluff mud,” presented daunting navigational challenges.
Defending champions Eddie Adams of Metairie, La., and Sean O’Connell of Mandeville, La., ran aground on a muddy bar and missed the weigh-in. According to BassTrakk’s unofficial standings, Adams and O’Connell would have placed third with two fish that weighed 7 pounds.
IFA Redfish Tour standout Ryan Rickard of Wimauma, Fla., and Elite pro Justin Atkins of Florence, Ala., suffered a similar fate, although they had no keepers for the day. (Rickard won the 2021 event and placed second in 2022, alongside Elite Chris Zaldain).
Saturday’s takeoff is scheduled for 7:15 a.m. ET at East Bay Public Ramp. The weigh-in will be held at Francis Marion Park at 3 p.m. Coverage will be simulcast on FS1 and beginning at 8 a.m.

The 2023 Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter Boats is being hosted by Georgetown County, S.C.

2023 Yamaha Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship presented by Skeeter Boats 10/27-10/29
Winyah Bay, Winyah Bay SC.
(BOATER) Standings Day 1

Angler Club/School Pts

1. Drew Cook – Dwayne Eschete 0
Day 1: 4 16-04 Total: 4 16-04
2. Fred Myers III – Cody Chivas 0
Day 1: 2 08-08 Total: 2 08-08
3. Aaron Salazar – Ben Human 0
Day 1: 1 04-03 Total: 1 04-03
4. Travis Land – Jeremy Reeves 0
Day 1: 1 03-07 Total: 1 03-07
5. Scott Canterbury – Krista Miller 0
Day 1: 1 02-07 Total: 1 02-07
6. Eddie Adams IV – Sean O’Connell 0
Day 1: 0 00-00 Total: 0 00-00
6. Justin Atkins – Ryan Rickard 0
Day 1: 0 00-00 Total: 0 00-00
6. Gary Moreno – Tony Viator 0
Day 1: 0 00-00 Total: 0 00-00
6. Pat Schlapper – Ben Powers 0
Day 1: 0 00-00 Total: 0 00-00
10. Jeff Mullett – Ken Mullett 0
Day 1: 0 -01-00 Total: 0 -1-00
Day #Limits #Fish Weight
1 1 9 33-13
1 9 33-13