The Florida Pro Redfish Series Championship hosted by Palm Valley Outdoors was held on the Intracoastal Waterway in Palm Valley Nov. 4-5 and attracted a record 81 teams.
The teams prequalified through a series of 16 statewide tournaments earlier this year.
The check-in point was relocated from the Vilano boat ramp to Palm Valley last month. St. Johns County Parks & Recreation director Wil Smith said the move was prompted by dredging that was taking place at the Vilano ramp area that limited parking spots, as well as another event taking place there. Smith and other community members said Palm Valley’s proximity to Jacksonville and fishing areas there made it a desirable location.
“It turned out to be a great location, venue and event to be hosted in Palm Valley,” said Deb Chapin, St. Johns County Recreation Advisory board member. “This is beneficial for the development of outdoor sports tourism in the county, including the location diversification and utilization of waterways in the northeast part of SJC. The future construction of the boat launch on the west side under the Palm Valley Bridge will be very beneficial for tournaments like this.”
Smith said the Palm Valley location was also a bonus for the anglers because it has a restaurant and other amenities the Vilano ramp doesn’t.
“I liked having [the tournament] in an area that’s a lot more visible than the Vilano boat ramp,” Smith said.
Presently there is only one ramp at the Palm Valley location, but Smith said the county is currently working on grants to add another ramp and floating dock to the west side of the Palm Valley Bridge, and is already hearing of plans for more tournaments to use the location.
He said the Florida Pro Redfish Series is looking to hold all four of its qualifying tournaments from its East Coast Division series at Palm Valley.
“It’s a great set-up,” Smith said of the ramp.
Anglers Jeremy Heimes and Travis Hancock of Team Power-Pole took the championship title with a two-day total weight of 28.40 pounds, and won an 18-foot BeaverTail Mosquito boat valued at $40,000.