Aside from stiff daily winds that make it tough to take advantage of a very good bite on Sabine Lake, an even more disconcerting issue has been the growing number of local anglers that continue to miss out on a lot of money in the summer long STAR tournament.

I can understand the argument that money is tight, the cost of gas continues to rise, and any added expense makes fishing trips even tougher to justify, but the argument that I do not buy is, “No one around here has a chance of catching a fish big enough to win!”

First of all, I cannot understand why any fishing parent would not at least enter the kids. You can enter two of your children for the cost of one container of GULP shrimp. I feel reasonably certain that someone in the neighborhood would pay a youngster $10 to mow their yard and that will cover the entry fee.

Ask Richard Albair, the owner of Bridge City Bait if a local angler really has a chance to win fishing these waters. He signed up for the event one day a few years back and won a boat, motor, and trailer while fishing off his dock the very next day!

Larry Strickland recently entered an 8-pound 6-ounce trout that he caught on the north end of Sabine and is currently holding the fourth runner up spot. That same fish could have just as easily inhaled a local teenager’s lure and he or she would already have a lock on a $20,000 college scholarship.

Last Tuesday we were blown out on the open lake and I was cast netting a stretch of the ICW south of the coke dock in hopes of catching enough live bait to fish the channel. A nearby fisherman anchored up in a flat bottom boat with his two daughters called me over and asked if I could identify a fish they had caught.

He thought it was a drum, but it was a chunky 3- to 4-pound sheepshead. They had only a small cooler for their water and frozen bait and everything they had caught that morning was lying on the bottom of the boat. There were several croaker and small drum drying out on the floor of the aluminum boat, but the two fish that caught my eye were a pair of gafftop catfish lying on a wet burlap sack.

I asked if I could weigh the smallest out of curiosity as it was as big as any I had seen this summer. It came as no surprise that the young father had never even heard of the STAR tournament so I just complimented him on his catch and eased away. There was no since in ruining his day.

If either of his two daughters caught one of those two fish they would currently be leading one of the youth divisions depending on their age. They both appeared to be under ten years of age making the partially dried out catfish worth $50,000!

I think anglers of every age should enter, but aside from the truck and boat combo up for grabs for a tagged redfish (two of those have already been caught by anglers that did not enter) the big money is in the kid’s divisions. Local teens are competing only against other teens on the upper coast for the big trout, but also have a shot at the largest sheepshead, flounder, and gafftop in the inshore division.

The leading sheepshead will be hard to beat in both the teen and 6- to 10-year-old divisions, but the rest of the scholarship money is still up for grabs. Thus far there have been no flounder even entered in the 6 to 10 group and a gafftop of less than 6 pounds is leading that category. Each of those fish carries a $50,000 bounty.

Your odds are much better than winning the lottery and even if you don’t catch the winning fish you have one more good reason to go fishing this summer!

While they are not very durable lures, swim baits are no longer a guarded secret on the saltwater scene. Everything that swims in brackish water will hit the weighted paddle tail grub and they are most effective when simply cast out and retrieved at a steady pace.
I have done well with both the Tsunami and Storm Wildeye shad, but the one I have personally done the best with is Crème’s 3-inch Spoiler Shad. They come in 4 or 5 colors, but I prefer the black back shad pattern when I can find them. More often than not, the rack is empty when I get to the store and I hear, “Some guy just bought all of them.”

I was the guy that bought the last four packs last Saturday, but I had to settle for pearl. I doctored up half of them with a black magic marker and dyed the tails chartreuse on the other half. If the fish do not bite the tails off, you can usually super glue the body back together and catch a few more fish. When you are providing tackle for everyone in the boat, a little glue can save the day.

I have caught a world of fish over the years, especially flounder, on Crème’s Lil Fishie, but the Spoiler Shad is even more effective on both trout and redfish for me. Wal-Mart occasionally carries them as well, but you better buy them immediately or be prepared to hear, “Some guy just………..!”