Hats off to chapter President, Scott Bandy, and every chapter member and volunteer that had anything to do with making last Thursday night’s banquet another huge success.

The Orange County CCA banquet was once again sold out months in advance and next year’s planning committee is probably already searching for an even larger building!

The steak dinner was phenomenal, the atmosphere was enjoyably laid back for a fund raiser event like this and it was obvious that Orange County businesses recognized the benefits of joining hands with the growing number of conservation minded anglers.

Bandy and a small group of concerned saltwater fishermen that believed that Orange County deserved and would support their own chapter took on the challenge of making it happen against all odds several years back. They continued to support the larger neighboring chapter events and pitched in on everything from flounder round-ups to crab trap clean-ups while continuing to promote their own vision of a vibrant chapter for Orange County fishermen.

While manning a registration table at a fishing event earlier this year Bandy remarked, “It has been a slow steady process and I have worked a small group of dedicated folks with the same vision to death, but it has been rewarding. As more and more fishermen realize that the CCA is their only voice in protecting and promoting their resource and that we are here to stay, it has gotten a little easier to grow the chapter.” Each year more area fishermen that were members of other chapters simply because Orange had no chapter have transferred their membership, but its new members that grow the organization and that number continues to increase as well.

Bandy also points out that we are blessed as Orange County fishermen to have the resources we have not to mention the location.“When tournament fishermen are running all the way from Galveston and Lake Charles to fish Sabine you know you have something special!”

If the annual banquets are indeed the measuring stick of how well a chapter has done each year Bandy and his hard working group are going to have to purchase an even longer stick. The best way to thank the Orange Chapter for staying the course and putting Orange on the fishing map is to join the chapter before you spend another dime on fishing.You can’t buy a piece of tackle that will be a better investment in the future of fishing for your kids and grand kids!

The major event of the year for CCA members is the summer long S.T.A.R. tournament which ended this weekend. At last check six of the coveted tagged redfish had been caught, but only three of them were caught by qualified anglers. The tagged redfish alone makes every day spent fishing even more enjoyable knowing that your next bite may be worth a new truck boat and trailer. All of the leaders can finally exhale, especially those that posted a leading weight early in the summer.

Surprisingly enough, the winning upper coast trout weighed only 8-pounds 10 ounces. That is a great trout, but I personally saw two trout over ten pounds caught off the north revetment and got reports of several more over nine pounds from Game Wardens patrolling the wall each day. Most of those fish were taken by bank fishermen fishing live shrimp under a popping cork.

Had they joined CCA and signed up for S.T.A.R. they wouldn’t be fishing from the bank next year! Little else really surprised me in the list of final winners other than the average size of the winning flounder in every division. The largest was 7 pounds 12 ounces and no winner in any of the divisions weighed less than 6 pounds. Folks throw that six pound number around a lot, but I see lots of flounder each year and it is not unusual to not see a single flounder that size.

I haven’t gone anywhere in the Golden Triangle this past week that someone hasn’t asked about the Bassmaster Elite Series coming to Orange in March. I have also been a little surprised by the number of calls that I have already received concerning everything from accommodations to navigating everywhere from Taylor’s bayou to the Neches. They do their homework early!

Photo: The flounder bite is improving daily.