“A handful of the teams are posting some very solid weights,” stated Ryan Warhola, “but it was a grind all day for us.” Warhola had just finished weighing in his Day One catch at last weekend’s “Do It In Orange” tournament and his assessment of the first day of fishing was right on the money. The leading weights were impressive, but there was nothing easy about the catching part.

The same wind that made four o’clock in the afternoon more bearable for both the tournament weigh masters and spectators only added to the difficulty for teams fishing the open lake. Without exception, the leaders in each division at the end of Day One reported that they fished very small areas and just hammered away for the entire eight hours. They were quick to add that they would not deviate from that game plan on Day TwoI!

At the end of Day One, Kevin and Scott Vaughn led the redfish division with two fish weighing 16. 27-pounds, Mike Stegall and Brian Quebodeaux led the trout division with 13.24-pounds and Chad and Brent Kemp led the bass division with 8.93 pounds. With less than a pound separating the top three teams in the trout division it would take another solid day to earn the $2000 first place check!

Not surprisingly, the added pressure and even stiffer wind made the catching that much tougher on Sunday. Anthony Patin and Jordan Hollingworth managed to virtually duplicate their Day One performance and eased their way into the top spot with a total of 23.48 pounds.  Stegall and Quebodeaux finished less than a pound off the pace and cashed the second place check of $1000.

Few, if any, doubted that the Vaughns would not surrender their Day One lead in the redfish division and they didn’t disappoint by finishing first with a four fish total of 29.44-pounds. If you are going to win a tournament in this area fishing for a fish with a spot on its tail you are going to have to beat the Vaughns. Michael Vaughan and Michael Braxton also enjoyed a very good second day and took home the second place check with 26.39- pounds.

While most of the attention was focused on the saltwater divisions, Chad and Brent Kemp just blew the lid of the bass division with an impressive two day total of 15.27 pounds. The team of Barry Celestine and Thera Granger earned the second place check with 11.08-pounds.  Most of the local bass fishermen on hand felt that weight would have easily won the bass division, but the Kemps had the larger bass figured out!

Easily, the most surprised winner of the weekend had to be Colton Estes. I have no idea as to why, but only two teams entered the newly added High School Bass Division and there were no fish weighed in at the end of the first day. Estes, however, hung in there the second day and brought a single 2.46 pound bass to the scales to earn the $1000 first place check.

His day became even memorable when the sponsors of that division, Bridgefield Electrical Services announced that since there were no other winners in that division they would award Estes the entire $2500. My hat is off to Bridgefield Electrical Services for that generous act as well as Estes for his tenacity. I wonder how many high schoolers are already trying to sign up for next year’s event!

Amazingly enough, and not without the extra effort of both the fishermen and weigh-in team, over half of the redfish and trout and a 100 percent of the bass weighed in were released alive. The team of volunteer S.A.L.T. club members that are now asked to handle the weigh-in at every big tournament in this area just do a phenomenal job.

Tournament chairman, John Gothia, and the sponsors that joined hands with the Orange Chamber of Commerce in hosting this much anticipated event are also to be congratulated and thanked as well. Their tireless work and support coupled with a fishery and user-friendly site that isn’t difficult to sell to visiting anglers has not gone unnoticed by several major tournament organizations.

The City launch and park have proven to be an invaluable facility lauded not only by local fishermen that use it on a daily basis, but visiting anglers as well. The pros that fished last year’s Bassmaster event here quickly spread the word not only in regards to the facility and accommodations, but to the hospitality and food as well and I look for a return visit from them in the near future.

Once again….a job well done by the folks behind the scene!