There are two logical reasons for ponying up the money to fish a professional bass fishing tournament as a non-boater. Winning a little money would be nice, but that would not top the average non-boater’s list of good reasons to spend a day on the water with a pro.

The first would be the opportunity to draw the name of one of the big stars in the bass fishing world. The second, and easily the best, would be the opportunity to watch a pro do his thing in the heat of battle. If you were open-minded and observant, you could get your money’s worth and never make the first cast.

Perhaps the greatest bargain would be discovering that you just might not have what it takes to be a professional angler and that alone could save you a great deal of time and money. One of Orange’s own pro anglers, Melvin Dunn, may well have done that favor for his non-boater on Rayburn this past weekend.

Dunn had been on a very good pattern on the north end of Rayburn for the past couple of weeks and felt very good about his chances in the recent BFL tournament. “A few days prior to the event I quickly picked up a four and a six pound fish and left it alone until tournament day,” said Dunn.

“There was nothing secretive about what I was doing,” he added. “I think half the field ran right past me on the way to their spots. I was just ticking the grass in three to seven feet of water with a trap. Some of the drains I fished didn’t even have water in them two weeks ago.”

With only five anglers left to weigh-in Saturday afternoon, Dunn was still sitting on top of the leader board with 19.02-pounds of bass. “At that point, I thought I had won my first big tournament,” said Dunn, “but a 20.02 sack at the last minute bumped me back to second. Second place in the prestigious field earned the Orange pro a $2800 check for his efforts.

Already respected as one of the nicest guys on the water, Melvin afforded his non-boater partner an opportunity that very few pros wouldeven consider. “I told him that I was on some very good fish and that once I got my five fish limit I would give him my lure and hold the boat just right while he caught his five fish,” stated Dunn.

In less than an hour, Melvin had his five bass and, as promised, turned things over to his partner. Much to his surprise and his partner’s dismay, he could not catch those same fish. Thinking the fish may have moved, or quit biting, Dunn tried his lure again and quickly caught two more quality bass.

“I gave it right back to him,” said Dunn, “but he just couldn’t catch those fish. I don’t know if his retrieve was a little off or maybe he wasn’t feeling the bites, but his confidence level was definitely bottomed out.”

Congratulations to Melvin on both his great finish and unselfish actions on the water. There is at least one non-boater in this world that might consider trading in his fishing tackle for golf clubs!

Trey Smith reports that in spite of the horribly dirty water in the bayous and the river, the bass are still biting and starting their spawning activity as well. “I caught fish in the clearest water I could find this weekend pitching jigs in the middle of any type of submerged structure.”

His best bass was a four-pound fish. “You know the spawn has started,” pointed out Smith, “when the bass pick up your jig or soft plastic and just start carrying it off and dropping it. The conditions are tough in
the bayous and the river, but the fish are there for fishermen willing to slow down and pick cover apart.

We also had our first decent day on trout on Sabine in quite a while last Saturday. We had to run to the south end to get it done, but we finished with twelve solid trout and three slot redfish. The water still looked terrible, but the trout were chasing mullet and would eat an Assassin thrown in front of their face.

The reds were more aggressive than the trout. There are still lot of rat reds around, but the percentage of slot fish is not bad for this early in the season. If you are crossing the lake, make it a point to run through the designated pipeline crossing markers to avoid hitting dredge material.

Jay Weeks welcomed a very good crowd of SALT club members with a crawfish boil on Pleasure Island Sunday. The family oriented fishing club continues to grow each year and hosts monthly tournaments and guest
speakers year round.

“Our clubhouse is on the island, but this not just a Port Arthur Club,” pointed out Weeks. “We have members from Lumberton, Buna, and all over the Golden Triangle.”

Aside from monthly tournaments to look forward to, the club participates in conservation efforts and helps provide a saltwater angling education for young and old alike. They have a redfish tournament slated for later this month and are already preparing for their annual two day Memorial Day tournament May 24 and 25th.