Kyle Petifer inspected both sides of the chartreuse brochure found lying on the counter while I cleaned his group’s fish. “It’s hard to believe this tournament is older than I am,” he stated in a tone of voice that questioned that possibility.

The tournament longevity he doubted was the upcoming 22nd OCARC Fishing Tournament and it is indeed two years older than young Petifer. The incredibly successful run is a tribute to the determination of Director John Thomas and the folks at the center as well as the unwavering support of the citizens of Orange County…

“We have had a few of those years when I thought the run was over right up to the last minute only to set another attendance record,” says Thomas. “We have continued to grow our participation over the years and the overwhelming bulk of our sponsors and entrants are from right here in Orange County!”

Several years back, Thomas hit a home run by scheduling the event on the first weekend of August for ever more. The Center still advertizes each year, but you can go ahead and schedule your vacation around that weekend for years to come without question. Because Aug. 1st falls out on a Saturday, this year’s edition will actually kick off Friday night, July 31.

For the first occasion in a very long time there will be two changes in the format. This year the weigh-in will be at the OCARC at 905 W. Park Ave. rather than the DERA launch on Adam’s Bayou. The eligible freshwater boundaries have also been reduced to a 40 mile radius of Orange. Regardless of whether you elect to fish fresh or saltwater, you only fish on public waters.

No other rules have been tweaked or changed. Only 20 to 27-inch redfish are allowed, there are still 31 cash prizes in 11 categories, and the biggest trout, red, flounder, and bass will earn you a $250 check. The entry fee is $25 per person.

In the worst of years, from a fishing standpoint, it was nothing short of amazing that local fishing would inexplicably improve the week of or immediately following this tournament every time. Unless we get a reversal in weather patterns this week, however, we will need no minor miracles as the local fresh and saltwater fishing has been very good.

I would not be surprised to see the winning speck come off the jetties or possibly the short rigs, but it could just as well happen on the river. The Neches has been kicking out good numbers of 25-inch trout to fishermen baiting up with live croaker and we turned two specks that size loose last week that hit live mullet.
You absolutely cannot get away from slot redfish right now. We have had no problem limiting in both the river and the lake on both live bait and artificials. Last Thursday and Friday we found schools of oversized reds schooling in the open lake and Bessie Heights anglers are catching easy limits as well!

The flounder could prove more of a challenge only because it has been difficult locating good numbers, but the size is still there. The more consistent bite has been at the mouths of the bayous on the east side of the lake, but I saw two flat fish over four pounds taken at the DuPont Outfall last Friday. I wouldn’t worry about the size of the available bait should you opt to chase a winning flounder as one of those fish hit a bream and the other ate a five-inch croaker.

The bass fishing has also been very good of late in the bayous and the river. Black neon six-inch worms fished Whacky worm style and small fire-tiger shallow diving crankbaits produced a lot of bass up to three pounds last week. The better bite was in the late evening on a falling tide.

I know of at least two unhappy local anglers that failed to purchase their new Louisiana non-resident fishing licenses. Be sure yours is up to date!