If you were patiently waiting out the most recent weather forecast to decide whether or not to fish this weekend’s big speckled trout tournament, all you succeeded in doing was incurring a $25 late registration fee. Little has changed for the past month and the rest of the week looks to be more of the same.

The wind direction may change, but the forecast will undoubtedly read, “Possibility of scattered showers and 10 to 15 mph winds with gusts as high as 25.” The weatherman could have vacationed for the past month, he may well have done just that, and just left that forecast on his screen without fear of being too far off base!

Either way, what many anglers as well as local hotels and restauraunts hope will become another annual event, kicks off this weekend with $7,500 in cash and prizes up for grabs. The anticipated event is the Cabela’s Speckled Trout USA tournament with late registration set for the City of Orange boat ramp on Simmons Drive Friday evening. There will be a mandatory Captain’s meeting at the same site at 5:30 both Saturday and Sunday morning.

Scheduled fishing hours are from 6:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. and all entrants must be in the weigh-in line by 4 p.m. The entry fee is $150 per team with a $25 late registration fee. Each team can weigh in five fish. Each team can also add a third member if that youngster is under the age of 16.

Trailering will be allowed, but there will be no wading allowed. All fish must be caught on rod and reels using only artificial lures. For more information you can call 800-528-4906.

Darlene Zavada and all of the folks involved with the Orange Convention and Visitors Bureau are to be commended for attracting a national fishing tournament and our participation is an investment in the economic future of the city. Each measure of success makes the next potential venture even more attractive and it is past time to show off the unmatched resources and hospitality of this area!

I hope that if for no reason other than simply showing your support that you sign up and fish the tournament. The option to add a youngster to your team was a positive change in this year’s format making it more appealing to those parents that already include the kids on most of their fishing trips.

The following is an up to date attempt at getting you in the hunt should you decide to enter at the last minute without the benefit of pre-fishing. First of all, it is imperative that you remember that you are fishing for five speckled trout only. You can trailer or run by boat to Louisiana waters to fish, but you can only return with fish that are legal in Texas so brush up on the regulations.

If you choose to fish in Louisiana waters you must have a Louisiana saltwater license!

Wind or no wind, based on the areas I have fished over the past two weeks, my first choice would be to fish the ship channel south of the Causeway including the jetties. The shoreline from the Chenier LNG terminal to Lighthouse Cove has provided the most consistent trout bite for the past month. Waiting out tide changes and the clearer water improves your chances.

Unless you really have a program wired in, I would split time between everything from a topwater lure to a plastic tail. That said, a 3-inch Swim Bait has been as productive as anything you can throw most days. You are going to have to surrender a few lures to the rocks and debris, but that is a small price to pay for five solid fish.

My second choice, depending on the size of your boat, would be the skinnier water in Keith Lake or the Bessie Heights marsh. The wind won’t be as big a factor and both of those marshes are holding very nice trout right now. The same baits will work in those areas.

You could also accidentally hit a home run should the Causeway reef start producing, but I don’t like the odds of catching five really good trout two days in a row if you haven’t had a chance to scout the area.

There is also the option of trailering to Calcasieu each day. The water is much prettier than it is here in Sabine and we have really done well the past few days on trout up to seven pounds. We have been wading, but the 2 to 4-foot flats are just as easily fished drifting in a boat. Look for bait on the surface.

We did catch some nice trout drifting glow-chartreuse Assassins under a Kwik Cork in West Cove, but most of our big fish have come off the Long Point flats. Every big fish that we caught hit either a topwater or a Corky Fat Boy. Depending on water clarity, morning glory or electric chicken have been our best two producers.

Even if you cannot fish the tournament, I hope you will attend the weigh-ins and support the efforts of the Orange CVB in once again bring a first class event to our city. I’ll see ya there!