The 322 entrants in the OCARC fishing tournament battled the heat all day Saturday, but by the time they were officially in the weigh-in line, the throng of spectators on hand were enjoying the cooler afternoon shadows. The fishermen didn’t disappoint them either as every category paid out three places.

While Director, John Thomas, scurried back and forth between the massive line of ice chests and the stage, Joe Persohn and the weigh-in crew announced and recorded each entrant with a fish, recognized every youngster that weighed in a fish with a trophy and handed out a pile of great door prizes until the last fish had been weighed in.

Thomas said that it took a little longer to get all of the fish registered, but that was due to the heat and the anglers waiting until the last possible moment to get in line. “We have had a few larger fields in the past,” he added, “but even with all of the fish brought to the scales the weigh-in went very smoothly.”

While it doesn’t represent the largest pay day, Eddie Forgey kicked things off by winning the prestigious “Don Hubbard” mudcat division with a solid 1.72-pound specimen. Jose Palacios then hoisted a 60-lb.gar on the scales to earn first place money and the parade to the winner’s stand was in full swing.

Randy Savage earned the $100 check in the rough fish division with an 11.80-lb. shark, but the winner’s check won’t quite cover his expenses. “It was a crazy day,” said Savage. “We ran right up in the middle of a school of redfish right off the bat and I immediately caught one that’s a 1/4 of an inch too long and then my engine locks up on the way back!”

Craig Stark nudged out the Borels with a 4.48 lb grinnel, while Orbin Ross stood quietly in line before winning two categories. Ross won the catfish division with a 27.19-pound fish and the croaker division with a .96-pound fish. “I think Mr. Ross has fished every one of these tournaments,” added Thomas.

While most of the better local bass fishermen said that it was not hard to catch numbers, but extremely hard to catch a big fish, the Venables locked up all three places in the bass division. Blake won the $250 first place money with an impressive 4.94-pound fish while Kenneth and Layney took the rest of the money with fish over three pounds.

The flounder division proved to be one of the most interesting, not only because there was a tie for first, but because of the large number of solid flat fish brought to the scales. Heath Reynolds and Jake Jordan split first and second place money with identical 2.78-pound fish. Robby Martin was right behind them with a 2.35-lb. flounder.

Jordan added to his earnings with a 7.11-pound redfish. The field brought in big numbers of reds, but the 27-inch limit held the weights under the 7-pound mark for the most part. Seemingly everyone was talking not only about over sized reds, but the number of undersized reds that were caught and released.

James Sargent and Eddie Williams finished second and third in the catfish division and I would have expected no less, but Sarge floored me when he said he may have won the trout division before the trout were even weighed. He is never far behind the catfish on the river, but a trout would have to come find Sarge and it did!

“We were just kicked back and resting on anchor,” laughed Sarge. “I put on a big finger mullet, lobbed it out in the Intracoastal and the fish did the rest.” His trout earned him another $250, but I don’t think we are going to see Sarge out chasing birds or wading the lake anytime soon!

I was equally surprised that all three white perch spots were filled due to the hot weather. They were not only filled, but all filled with fish over the 1-pound mark. Kevin Blanchard took home first place money with a very respectable 1.86-pound fish.

Several of the entrants said they had trout bitten in half by small sharks and at least two sharks were caught in the river last week in the four-foot class. As a matter of fact, the winning shark came out of the Middle Pass area. Live bait fishermen have also caught a few sting rays on the north end of the lake lately and that is unusual in itself.

We are still fishing a hit and miss bite on the north end of the lake for the most part, but the trout bite on the jetties has steadily improved. There is a good morning bite which has been non-existent on the north end and the average trout has been very respectable. The folks fishing the short rigs with the flatter seas are also doing well on trout up to six pounds.