I don’t know how an organization as well known as the IFA can host a Redfish Tournament right here in Orange and for all practical purposes, come and go with little or no fanfare.The heat possibly discouraged some potential spectators at the weigh-in and that was understandable, but I have since talked with lots of folks that knew nothing about the event! All week long I saw tower boats running all over the lake so it was apparent that they were pre-fishing for a tournament somewhere on Saturday.Even after Albert Bates called and said that he was considering fishing the tournament, I had no idea it was going to be here in our own back yard. It wasn’t until 2:00 Saturday evening when Eric Roning called to see if I was going to the weigh-in that I realized it was right here in Orange.Thirty minutes later, he and I met at the City Launch just as the first team was weighing in.The weigh-in was extremely well run, but there was little they could do for the handful of observers melting down on the broiling concrete! This was a scheduled stop on the IFA Redfish Tour for the teams fishing that circuit and the prize money was significant.Dwayne Eschete and Kevin Akin set the bar too high for the rest of the field when they posted a whopping two fish total weight of 18.38 pounds early on.Their winning weight easily bested the second place team of Jimmy Lloyd and Amy Townsend by nearly a pound and a half. That doesn’t sound like a great deal of weight until you consider the fact that you are trying to play catch up with only two fish in the slot.The difficulty in making up ground was very much in evidence Saturday as less than a pound separated second and fifth place and less than two pounds separated second through tenth. As you would expect, there were several teams representing the immediate area and the majority of them did really well.Trey Pearson and Jerrod Broussard led that group with their third place finish good for $2233.Eschete and Akin left Orange with a new Ranger 190 RB in tow and $3000 cash for their winning catch. Fifty two teams fished the event and thirty-two teams weighed in at least one fish.A number of the teams caught fish, but failed to weigh in a single red because everything they caught was oversized. Deciding whether to fish the marsh, the open lake or the jetties led to some serious second guessing at the end of the day. That same problem has been the downfall of many local anglers lately.When you are in the right place at the right time in the open lake the redfish bite can be absolutely addicting.The catch, however, is trying to figure out when and where to be!
You would not believe how many times I have seen buck fever overcome even veteran clients when the melee starts.Back casts that snag every rod in a holder and backlashes that more closely resemble a bad hair day are the two most common mishaps.When they quit schooling only to resurface a hundred yards away, fishermen take off with their troll motor still down or, more than once, throw everyone on the floor with an unexpected quick start.
The fact that many of these fish are oversized is no big deal for the recreational angler, but it was very frustrating for the tournament anglers looking for slot fish.Even more frustrating is when they school every day except the day you are counting on them.I have spent some miserably hot days waiting on redfish that never showed up. Recreational anglers also have the advantage of fishing live bait when they can find it. Both shad and finger mullet drifted on Carolina rigs often ferret out these pods of redfish when nothing else will.Having a spoon, Swim bait or Hoginar tied on another rod will usually fool other fish swimming with the hooked fish. Burn a little gas this weekend and see if you can get in the right place at the right time!

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