The veritable sea of trucks packed into the new Orange County Convention and Expo Center last Thursday night further confirmed the fact that promoting our local fishing pays big dividends. Scott Bandy, Louis Moore and a handful of members in the Orange County CCA Chapter put together a fund raising banquet the size of which few would have thought possible in Orange County only two years ago.

They not only doubled the size of the banquet in a single year, but attracted guests and other CCA members from as far away as Katy and Natchitoches, La. Everything about the annual event was first class and local business owners were very much on board with their support. World class bay fishing attracts visitors and visitors spend money on everything from hotel rooms to the toothbrush they forgot to pack.

The county has recently taken great strides in promoting both the area and the fishery and in doing so has finally tapped into a resource that was taken for granted much too long. I have always wondered how San Antonio could generate millions of dollars off a narrow gully winding through the middle of the city while Orange, perched on the banks of the Sabine River, could not capitalize on such a fabulous location. The Interstate lies less than five minutes from downtown, the entire eastern side of the city lies on the banks of the Sabine River and one of the top saltwater fisheries on the Texas coast is a five minute boat ride to the south!

The public boat launch and surrounding park located on Simmons Drive initially got the ball rolling and has already far exceeded all expectations as to the value of that investment. Not only does it attract boaters and anglers from nearby counties and parishes every day, but in 2013 alone it hosted a record setting Bassmaster Elite event and the largest field to ever attend an annual OCARC event!

Orange is no longer a secret amongst the statewide fishing community not only due to the incredible fishery, but the positive promotions and friendly atmosphere as well. My hat is off to the Orange County CCA Chapter for their magnificent effort and well deserved results!

Albert Bates and his partner, Mike Veitch, absolutely blew away the rest of the field last Saturday in the final Triangle TailChaser Club event of the year. It was not only their third win of the year, but salted away the Team of the Year title as well. In winning the championship they weighed in slams in five of the tournaments. A slam consists of two redfish, two trout and two flounder which is no small feat in itself.

Their winning total of 24.70 pounds was five pounds heavier than the second place stringer weighed in by the team of Freddie Frederick and J-Rod Broussard. Frederick and Broussard also finished in second place in the Team of the Year chase and weighed in three slams of their own over the course of the year as well.

Bates said that catching their two redfish was not a problem as they went through a lot of reds, but the trout and flounder required a little more work.“We just squeezed out a couple of legal flounder,” said Bates, “and we caught a decent number of trout, but there was a little luck involved with the two big fish we weighed in. One ate a topwater in the open lake and we caught the other one under a slick on the way back to the weigh-in!”

The club membership has continued to grow and they are already making plans for next year. Ancelet’s Marina located under the Rainbow Bridge has proven to be both a gracious and convenient weigh-in site while Del Papa, Gulf Coast Redfish Series, Daley’s and Simon Outfitters were sponsors of every event.

The catching has not been particularly easy lately, but the full moon usually makes things a little more difficult. The fish we caught were solid, but the numbers just weren’t there for us most of the week.

Gary Purdy and his brother-in-law wade fished the flat on the tip of Pleasure Island two nights in a row and had one very good night and one bust. Gary said the conditions were exactly the same the second night, but they only caught five trout and three reds in seven hours of fishing.

The night before, they limited on trout and released several in the five pound class including a 28-inch fish that only weighed a shade over seven pounds. Gary said they were literally walking through schools of mullet all night long and there was never a time when the fish weren’t blowing up on them.

He showed me a black-chartreuse She Dog the following morning that had very little paint left on it. He added that his brother-in-law had done just as well with an old Producer Ghost that he had painted black.We also caught a few fish on black right at daylight, but had to switch to tails and Swim Baits to catch our fish after that.

Capt. Chris Horner called last week and said that he is opening an office in Orange to help interested folks obtain their Captain’s license. For more information give him a call at 409-238-5170.