I know that gas for the fishing boat is a tough sale in the average household right now, but I would still encourage local saltwater fishermen to compete in one or two of the tournaments set for the end of May. Within the span of one week, the annual S.T.A.R. tournament will kick off, Texas Marine will host the second event of their big trout series, and the Saltwater Anglers League of Texas will host their 34th Annual Memorial Day Classic.

If you prefer taking the spectator route, Bob Sealy and ESPN will be back on Pleasure Island with the Oberto’s Redfish Cup May 30 though June 1. That has become a very elite circuit limited to a select group of hand picked teams, but it is still an opportunity to see some cool boats and possibly visit with some of the pros you read about and see on television.

Before we get into the particulars of the events that you can and should consider entering, I am pleased to report that the fishing on Sabine Lake has turned on over the past week. Every time I run into a reader of this column, they are quick to point out that the fishing must be poor if I am writing about anything other than catching fish!

That is not the case this week. The lake cleared up virtually overnight and the bite improved all the way from the jetties to East Pass. This past week we caught a lot of three to four pound trout drifting the flats, working the rocks, and chasing gulls. The fish under the gulls are very solid trout!

Depending on which flock of birds you catch up with, there are also some hefty redfish to be had as well. I cannot recall seeing this many juvenile ribbonfish skipping across the surface and both the trout and reds are right behind them. We were done by early afternoon each day, but I talked with several local anglers that said the bite was just as good right before dark.

While we caught most of our larger trout on dark colored Assassins, I also saw fish caught on swim baits, Topwaters, and Traps all week long. The southwest wind made it tough through the middle of the day, but there was still plenty of schooling activity between the whitecaps all the way from mid-lake to Blue Buck on both sides of the pipeline.

The flounder bite has been equally good provided the wind does not pound the Louisiana shoreline. I feel certain the canals in the Game Reserve are producing good catches, but we have caught our flounder working the shoreline of the main lake with Sea Shads, swim baits, and quarter ounce spinnerbaits.

The improved bite could not have come at a better time for the S.A.L.T. club’s annual event hosted out of Pleasure Island. Jay Weeks Stan Armstrong, and all of the folks in the club have gone the extra mile in making the event a great fishing weekend for the entire family. They absolutely do not leave anyone out when it comes to hosting a fishing tournament.

The very nominal $30 entry fee gets you in the inshore and offshore division for both days and a T-shirt to boot. They have a division for the women and yet another division for the kids as well.

While the tournament focuses on family participation and getting area folks involved in saltwater fishing, there is some serious money up for grabs. The winning speck is worth $1000, the red is worth $800, and the largest flounder will earn you a $500 check. I do not know of many other tournaments where you can win $1000 and possibly $2300 for a $30 entry fee.

Mark Foreman called twice last week to issue a challenge to Orange County anglers to come over and compete with the fishermen in the Port Arthur based club. “There is no doubt that there are some darn good fishermen in your area and we would love to compete with them on Sabine,” said Foreman.

“Even more important than that” he added, “is that we would love to have all of those folks join the club, participate in the monthly tournaments and meetings, and share their ideas on anything that will enhance the fishing on Sabine Lake.”

I have made a couple of their meetings and it was obvious that Orange County fishermen have nothing like S.A.L.T. available to them. It is a short drive for us to hear top-notch speakers each month and have a voice in upgrading a great resource. I urge you to answer Mark’s challenge, bring some of that money back across the bridge, and take the time to visit with those folks. It is a win-win situation for you and Sabine Lake.
It is a little longer trek, but a Ranger 173 Ghost and 90hp Yamaha is still very much up for grabs on May 31. That is the date of the second leg of the Texas Marine Big Trout Series and I feel reasonably sure that the leading trout of less than five-pounds off Sabine Lake will not hold up. Hourly prize money is not bad at $500 for the largest trout, but the boat is the real reason for making the drive to Galveston.

Last, but not least, and we will talk more about it later, the CCA S.T.A.R. Tournament kicks off on the 24th and runs though September 1. Why anyone that may fish even three or four times this summer would not enter this tournament is beyond me.
There is the potential for winning an incredible amount of money every time you wet a hook. The majority of the cash and prizes can be won by anyone that can get a lure in the water and the tournament lasts all summer.

A tagged redfish that is worth a boat and truck does not know if you are a pro or a weekend angler when it decides to eat and one of your kids can win a $50,000 scholarship should they snag the right flounder or gafftop. The entry fee in the S.T.A.R. tournament is the best investment in saltwater fishing you will make this year!