Mike Hebert still has to be scratching his head after last Saturday’s big trout tournament on Sabine Lake. He started the annual event, which has since expanded to two events each year, as a “thank you” to all of the area boaters and fishermen that have made Texas Marine their boat headquarters over the years.

In spite of a relatively light turnout due to very tough conditions, his outfit still handed out $7000 in hourly prizes, qualified an individual for the keys to a Ranger Ghost with a 90 hp. Yamaha, and once again raised more money for the Children’s Miracle Network and the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital.

While you just know that deep inside, Hebert would love to see one of the customers that have supported his business win every hour, he would at the very least like to see someone fishing in any boat win. Such was not to be, however, on a beautiful day better served for picnicking or drying clothes outdoors. Much to the chagrin of the eighty-two other contestants that endured a long windy day on the water, Mike Zumwalt of Rose City caught a 4.39- pound speck to easily cope big fish honors and never even ventured off dry land!

He also won a third place hourly prize as well as the bonus money for the two trout pot. By the time all of the money was handed out and we were rolling up the tents, Zumwalt was back on his lawn mower with $1100 in his pocket and a leg up on a new boat should no one catch a larger trout at the end of May in Galveston.

That’s right……the big winner got it done on a riding lawn mower. Rather than fight a white capping muddy lake, he elected to mow his lot on the island and fish a little with live bait off the bank.

You really had to be on top of your game and obviously a little lucky as well to win money Saturday. It was cold all morning, a north wind howled most of the day, and the low tide hurt the fishermen that had been doing well in both Bessie Heights and the Keith Lake chain. That said, most of the winning fish still came out of Keith Lake, but the size was not there.

It was so difficult that not a single fish was weighed in during the eight to nine hour. Several contestants stated at the final weigh-in that they had a small trout that would have won, but they did not want to run that far in those conditions to take a chance with a small speck. They rued that decision when they saw the money still on the board with no takers.

Sabine Lake won this round, but the good news for everyone except Mike Zumwalt, is that the Ranger Ghost is still up for grabs at the Galveston tournament set for May 31. If no one beats his trout in that event he will have to put a trailer hitch on his riding lawn mower!

I had an opportunity to talk with a number of folks that fished the event and several of them shared very promising information. The visiting guides and pros that fished were shocked at how fresh and dirty the lake was as they have been doing pretty well all the way from East Bay to Matagorda. They said they still felt confident, however, after scouting Sabine Friday afternoon.

They left the fish as soon as they located them, but the fact that they found them at all was encouraging. There were a few trout up to six pounds taken out of slicks on the south end of the lake. There were also some very solid fish caught under slicks in the ship channel. At least two of the fish that won money in the latter part of the day were caught south of Lighthouse Cove after the incoming tide started clearing up the water.
If you missed this tournament, make plans for the Galveston event at the end of May. While the 4.39-pound trout is a respectable fish, I believe the door is very much ajar for someone looking to win the keys to the Cadillac of flats boats!

This has really been a phenomenal spring for big bass on both Rayburn and Toledo Bend thus far, but I cannot recall any Texas lake, including Fork, that can rival Falcon right now. I watched the Bassmaster Elite tournament on ESPN that Paul Elias won their earlier this month and it was shocking.

Even Elias and Terry Scroggins who finished second were shocked. If you have never tournament fished then you have no idea how much harder bass fishing is when your paycheck is on the line. In spite of that pressure, the pros caught bass for four days on Falcon like never before in the history of professional bass fishing.

The top six finishers all broke the existing record of 122-pounds for 20 fish. Elias won with an incredible total of 132-lbs. 8 ozs. Scroggins caught five fish the final day that weighed over 44 pounds and still had to settle for second place.

Over a four-day period, the field brought in 1386 bass that weighed 6,811 pounds. Can you even imagine catching nearly 1400 bass in four days that average over four-pounds apiece?

Perhaps the most amazing total posted and one that may stand for many years to come was the winning weight for the non-boater that fished with a different pro each day. His total was a staggering 83 pounds and he spent the entire tournament fishing used water out of the back of the boat!

Congratulations to local tournament anglers Matt Purgahn of Orange and Ross Smith of Bridge City on their second place finish in the recent Angler’s Quest tournament on Rayburn. They earned a $690 check with an 8.61-pound fish that took big bass honors and a five fish sack weighing 20.40-pounds. They have proven to be a tough team to beat this spring.