Thankfully, Tropical Storm Bonnie did not blow out the local fishing this weekend and at least two local anglers took advantage of the break by catching bragging sized trout. While it did not come as too big of a surprise, both of those fish came out of the river rather than the lake.

We fished in the rain pretty much all day long last Thursday and every pattern we fished worked pretty well. Dr. Dan Martin had booked the trip over a month ago and decided early on that a little rain wasn’t going to spoil his day. Before it was over, however, we would see more than a little rain and narrowly avoided a soaking of biblical proportions, but the fish bit right though it all.

We started off well, fishing both a swim bait and plastics under a cork around the drains and mouths of the bayous at daylight, but the most enjoyable bite started a little further off the shore line later in the morning. Small flocks of terns would lead us to ladyfish killing shad on the surface and the trout and reds were right there with them.

We had only one trout in the five-pound class, but most of the fish were just solid 17 to 19-inch fish. We stuck with tails and Swim Baits, but Dr. Dan e-mailed me and said that they did well the following day with spoons. I cannot imagine him convincing his wife, Kimberly, to give up her green Spoiler Shad after wearing us all out with it the day before!

Even though Friday proved to be a better weather day, dodging scattered thunderstorms and the winds that accompanied them was an accepted part of the program for those fishing the remainder of the weekend. One of the anglers that caught one of the bragging size trout was fishing the river only because he could not get in the lake at that time. As a matter of fact, he was killing time on a stretch of shoreline that he had never bothered to fish only because it was a short run back to the lake.

After catching four keeper flounder and two slot reds on a Gulp Shrimp rigged on an 18-inch leader under a cork, he threaded a white Gulp pogie on a quarter ounce lead head looking for his fifth flounder before the rain stopped. He never caught that fish, but he did catch his personal best trout just before leaving the area to return to the lake.

“The crazy thing about it,” he laughed, “was the big trout nibbled just like a flounder or even a croaker.” Regardless of how unaggressive the bite may have been, our self-proclaimed flounder enthusiast eventually dumped a 27-inch trout right back in the lake after quickly measuring it.

“It may have been even longer,” he added, but I guestimated as my measuring board is only 26-inches long and it hung over at least an inch without closing the tail. It wasn’t some great conservation thing I did in putting her back because I don’t keep any trout or big redfish. I do hope, however, that all those big trout fishermen will put any flounder they don’t want back for me as well!”

The report of the second trout came with a photo included via e-mail and it looks even larger than reported. While Allen Diles was tickled to death that his 12-year old son, Butch, boated the huge 7-pound 13-ounce trout Saturday morning, it proved to be a “good news-uh-oh” story.

“I was really happy that he caught her,” said Diles after weighing the fish. “I first thought the speck weighed at least nine pounds and all I could think was that I just missed a shot at winning the STAR tournament and a very nice boat. We had to keep the fish because it picked up a 6-inch mullet on a rod we weren’t even watching and swallowed half the mullet and a 6/0 Kahle hook before Butch even set the hook.”

To say the least, Dad’s joy at the fact that the fish had not been a pound heavier, was somewhat tempered when he discovered that the fish would have easily taken over first place in the STAR Teen-division had Butch been signed up. He would have had to settle for a $20,000 scholarship, but that would work for most folks.

“I hadn’t signed him up because fishing has never been his bag,” stated Allen. “He came along with me only because he thought it was a better option than joining his Mom and sisters on an all day shopping trip. You just never know. Next year I’m signing up Butch, my daughters, my nephew and I may even sign up the neighbor’s kids as well!”

Diles was okay with sharing the fact that he has already caught several other big trout as well as his first two flounder over six pounds fishing the river this summer. He said that he hadn’t been fishing particularly deep, but had changed tactics with his bait. All of his big fish hit a live mullet that most folks consider just a little too large to fish.

My brother told me Sunday morning that he also saw yet another big trout caught by anglers fishing live bait around the DuPont Outfall last week. The STAR tournament is still wide open and this bodes especially well for the OCARC event which kicks off the first weekend in August. Fish this size could easily make for a very lucrative payday.

You might want to sign up before your next trip because like Allen Diles said, “You just never know and that’s a big chunk of change for a small investment!”