The weather was much kinder Saturday afternoon to the huge crowd on hand for the OCARC weigh-in than it was to the anglers. The thunderstorms cut the 360 anglers some slack, but a tough wind forced a large percentage of the field to fish Plan B.

Even at that, every category produced a winner and there were some excellent weights posted. There was never a doubt that the redfish category was going to be the most hotly contested. It took four ice chests to hold all of the redfish between 20 and 27 inches brought to the scales.

When all was said and done, Richard Hogden took top money with a 7.55 pound fish. Only last week we were visiting after a day on the water and he said that he lost a couple of nice reds on topwaters and then just sat back and enjoyed watching two schools feed on the surface. You are not too mad at the fish if you can do that?

I doubt that he was able to locate those same fish in the wind, but I can assure you that he took that same laid back approach where ever he fished. Good guys do finish first from time to time!

Sammy Hall, on the other hand, took just the opposite approach in an effort to cash in on the top trout money. He had been on nice trout all week long only to have the wind pound the jetties throughout the night. “When we left the jetties Saturday morning and ran back into the lake we only had two fish,” said Hall.
They made one or two quick stops in the lake before deciding to make yet another last minute run back to the jetties. “When we got there, the water had cleared up and the fish were going nuts,” said Hall. “We probably caught over 60 keeper trout. He earned third place money with a 4.94-pound fish as a result of his determined effort while Peggy Hecker took first place honors with an impressive 6.42-pound speck.

Aaron Huckaby won the flounder division with a solid 2.78-pound fish, but the ice chest at the foot of the stage was half full of flatfish in the two pound class. I have always had a weakness for flounder and every fish looked like it came out of the same mold. They started doing their thing last week and we may be setting up for a very good run in the next few weeks.

Not surprisingly, the winning bass weighed only 2.10 pounds. Rayburn and Toledo Bend were off limits this year and you pretty much had to get it done on the river. Hunter Gothia barely nudged his mentor and good friend, Trey Smith for the $250 check. It looks like he is learning his lessons well.

I talked with Trey at the weigh-in and he said they would have to put their own personal asterisk by the win anyway since James Chargois was unable to fish. “James has been a permanent fixture on the river for years,” said Smith, “and you always know that you are going to have to beat him to win the money.” A lot of folks say the same thing about Smith!

Nolan Foreman and J.B. Arrington turned a leisurely fishing trip into a nightmare with one wrong turn, but all turned out well following a miserable sleepover in the marsh. Chuck Uzzle and I were talking earlier in the year about the fact that many of the original cuts in the marsh had changed and some were totally blocked off with vegetation following Ike’s assault.

The local anglers apparently discovered that the hard way, but outside of donating way too much blood to the relentless hordes of mosquitoes, they were found in good shape. You would have thought that it would have been relatively easy for the helicopters to spot them, but one of the agents said that Ike left so many damaged boats scattered all over the marsh that it made it difficult to pick them out.

One last thought on the rescue story that ended with a collective sigh of relief across the county. Getting your boat stuck in the marsh is a problem more commonly associated with low tides and the winter months, but we did have some very low tides in the evenings last week. Either way, always include some means of building a fire as a part of your emergency gear.

It will keep you warm if you are wet and cold, it will help with the mosquitoes, and I can guarantee you that if you set something on fire in the dark … someone is going to find you. I can also guarantee you that if J.B. and Nolan could have built a fire; they would have figured out a way to barbecue those beanie weenies by the time help arrived!