Rickard reels in winning fish at Bassmaster Redfish Cup

Brandon resident wins Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship
Posted at 2:51 PM, Jan 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 17:21:43-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Professional angler Ryan Rickard has waited years to take home the top trophy in a major fishing event.

“I’ve had 17 second-place finishes,” Rickard told ABC Action News sports anchor Kyle Burger. “So, I’ve been knocked off that podium 17 times. So much so I almost called it quits because it gets in your mind.”

Rickard, a Brandon resident, was first introduced to fishing at five years old.

“I just started out fishing little lakes and ponds,” he said. “When I got out of school I was just jonesing to be going to the lake with my uncle.”

That love for the rod and reel never went away. Rickard turned professional in 2008; just competing in small tournaments around Tampa Bay — until he got an invite in November to battle in the big one.

“I had never done an event to this nature as far as the exposure of what Bassmasters,” Rickard said. “When you talk about the name ‘Bassmasters,’ that is the epitome of fishing. I had never been part.”

Rickard was teamed up with Chris Zaldain, whom he never met prior to this event, as one of the ten teams competing in the Bassmaster Redfish Cup Championship.

“It made it more of a challenge when you’re fishing with someone you’ve never fished on a boat before, especially they’re not a redfish guy, he’s a bass guy,” Rickard said. “Chris Zaldain, I could not ask for a better partner. This guy was the right for me.”

It was a three-day tournament in Port Aransas, Texas. Teams brought in their six heaviest fish between 20-28 inches. On the final day, in the closing minutes, Rickard reeled in the game-winner.

“We kind of had that last-minute hero fish,” he said. “It’s all televised, as soon as I said it I hook up on a nine-pounder. That was the tournament. That put us 2.5 pounds over the rest of the field. That was it.”

The prize? A big trophy and an even bigger check for $50,000.

“To do this, on this stage, was worth every second or third place I had ever had.”