10 Questions with the RMMC Series
As the General Manager of the Roland Martin Marina & Resort, Ramon Iglesias and his dedicated crew run the Roland Martin Marine Center Series, the highest paying team tournament trail in Florida. We recently sat down with him to get his thoughts on the history and future of the RMMC Series as they get ready for the 2017 Championship where a record $20,000 will be awarded to the top team.
Name: Ramon Iglesias
Title: General Manager @ Roland Martin Marina & Resort
History with Marina & Resort: 13 years
Home: Clewiston, FL
Q When was the first event of the RMMC Series?
RI Our first tournament was in March of 2015. We had about 65 teams competing and the winner’s check was $4,000 back then. From the initial feedback, our anglers liked what we were doing and it fueled the fire to keep us going.
Q How did the series start?
RI When I started at the Marina 13 years ago, owner Mary Ann Martin told me from day one that she wanted to have our own tournament out of the Marina. Unfortunately, since I was new to the fishing tournament world, I wanted to wait to make sure we did it right. As time went by, I hosted a few tournaments over the years but wasn’t in charge of them. It wasn’t until Mike Krause came on board, who had been involved in tournaments, that we started figuring out how to bring Mary Anne’s vision to life.
Q What do the anglers have to say about the series?
RI There’s a lot that they like about it. Of course the payouts are the main thing. They’ve told us it’s the best-run tournament on Lake Okeechobee. We’ve also heard it’s the best-run tournament in Florida. It's all led to us being named the highest paying team tournament trail in Florida. And at the end of the event, when the anglers see how much work goes into bringing them the type of tournament we put together and the amount of money we’re paying out, they appreciate it. And we appreciate them.
Q How much do you rely on your staff and the resort during the events?
RI It’s a complete team effort. And everyone plays a role. From the tackle shop, to the front desk booking rooms, to the staff in the kitchen, to mechanics helping with boat repairs and even maintenance helping with setup. Then there’s our phenomenal M.C., Mike at the bump tank, the guys caring for the fish in the release boat and Heather on stage keeping us on track. It’s a lot of work and everyone steps up to bring it all together.
Q What makes the RMMC Series different from other team tournament trails?
RI We truly are a 100% payback event. We’ve got the best M.C. in the business and we truly care what the anglers think. Even better, you can eat, sleep and fish right where the tournament is happening.
Q Are you amazed at the amount of top anglers the Series attracts and how hard they fish?
RI Absolutely! From retired professional anglers to weekend bass warriors, we attract some true diehards. We haven’t been subject to too many bad-weather events, but it doesn't matter. These guys will brave near monsoon conditions to get out there and fish.
Q How have the sponsors stepped up to boost the series?
RI Not only have current sponsors stepped up, but I had four different sponsors contact me in the last couple weeks wanting to be a part of what we’re doing. We continue to look for sponsors that we can bring value to. We’ve turned down sponsors just for the simple fact that we didn’t think we could add value to their product. We’re not just going to take a check unless we think they can get a good return from our working relationship. Companies like U.S. Sugar have been with us from the start and contribute Big Bass Awards along with their support. ARK Rods has stepped up to sponsor our Team Of The Year Award, which awards our Team Of The Year paid entries for the entire 2018 season. They even stepped up to foot the bill for our Championship Banquet Friday night at the John Boy Auditorium. Other sponsors like Gilbert Chevrolet have been with us since day one as our official vehicle sponsor. Ranger Boats contributes Ranger Cup incentives that awards $1,000 to the winning team if they are fishing from a Ranger Boat. And Interstate Batteries joined us last season taking care of the purchase of our Championship trophies, which is huge. The list continues with other great companies - be sure to visit our sponsor page for complete list.
Q What are the main attractions of this year’s championship?
RI Besides a record payout of $20,000 to the winning team, the excitement of who is going to win is the big draw. Plus, this lake fishes different every other day. You could be on them one day and off the next. It’s anybody’s guess who’s going to win. And that right there is what it all comes down to. The excitement isn’t limited to just the anglers either. For the fans, M.C. Chris “Peanut” Brill keeps the energy going with his unique commentary. We always have something for the kids courtesy of Charlie’s Worms to get them excited about fishing. We got great raffle prizes, too. And not only fishing products. We’re giving away everything from T.V.’s and wireless headphones to watches and perfume. We have something for everyone.
Q How is the condition of Lake Okeechobee?
RI The water level has been high following Hurricane Irma but it’s dropping 4/10” every day. There are plenty of areas that are fishable even though there’s still a lot of dark water. But all in all, Irma did some good for the lake. For example, as the lake drops, areas like the Monkey Box will be in better shape. We just have to get through it. After all, this is Lake Okeechobee. Even on its worst day, it fishes better than most lakes across the country. And all it takes is one Okeechobee lunker to catapult you to the top.
Q What can we expect in future seasons?
RI Honestly, I don’t know. But I do know you can be sure we’ll work hard to make it better than the year before. We understand we’re not the big dogs. We look at ourselves as the stepping-stone to the next level. By competing against the hardcore anglers we attract, we can better prepare our anglers looking to step up to the next level. And when the last fish is weighed and we award the big check, you can bet we’re already thinking about how to make next season even better.
The Roland Martin Marine Center Series 2017 Championship is December 9 & 10 at the Roland Martin Marina in Clewiston, Fl. Come out for the weigh-ins starting at 3p.m. Saturday and Sunday with raffles and $20,000 awarded to the winning team following the Sunday weigh-in. See you in Clewiston.