OCARC Tournament posts record turnout
John Thomas had just unloaded the last ice chest from the back of his pickup Saturday and marked the designated weigh-in path when I pulled up to the OCARC weigh-in site on Adams Bayou. I had just finished a very tough day on the water and was looking for a shady spot.
“Man, you just cannot say enough about the people in this community,” said Thomas as he mopped the sweat off his forehead and shielded his eyes from the glare of the evening sun. “Wednesday morning we had 42 entries and I was blaming everything from gas prices to the heat.”
When Thomas and his staff filed the last of the entry fees for the 21st annual event two days later, they sealed the envelope on a whopping 370 forms. “In two days we went from making excuses to setting a tournament record and that is just a great example of good folks taking the time to support others that need and appreciate their help!”
As expected, in spite of the record turnout, the weigh-in stage was not overly crowded. A heat index of 106 degrees, a howling west wind and a triple X low tide stacked the deck against the massive field of anglers.
With the bite already tough, it only got tougher as fishermen crowded into the few protected areas available to them. For the first time in the history of the tournament, only one bass was weighed in and not a check was written in the white perch division.
The one bass that did make the scales was a good one as Eddie Chargois cashed the top check with a 4.70-pound fish. While all of the numbers were down, the flounder category produced the most entries and the toughest competition of the 24-hour event. In fact, it took a tournament record fish to net the first place money.
Jordan Babcock and Zachary Harrison had to settle for second- and third-place money with impressive 3.12 and 2.70-pound fish.
Karlon Babineaux’s record-breaking winner tipped the scales at 3.63-pounds. I do not know that any one angler caught big numbers of flounder, but the top 10 fish that made it to the scales would have made any fisherman proud.
While the numbers were down, the winning fish were very respectable in the other three major categories as well. Hunter Aucoin edged Jerry Daville by less than a tenth of an ounce to claim the $250 check in the redfish division. The winning weight was 6.97 pounds.
The redfish division may have yielded the largest number of fish in a single category, but many of them were on the lower end of the slot. A 7-pound red is a good fish when restricted to a 27-inch maximum length.
Not surprisingly, there were very few entries in the speckled trout division, but the top two fish were both over four pounds. K.J. Staudt’s 4.53-pound trout earned him first place money with Colby Dodge finishing less than an ounce off the pace.
Tournament emcee Gary Stelly and the rest of the weigh-in crew managed to avoid slime, ice, and loose scales to record respectable winners in several of the other divisions. Andy Borel, a perennial winner, brought in a 6.72-pound grinnel, Bryan Sandlin won the gar division with a 27.47-pound fish, and Orbin Ross took home top money with a 25.18-pound catfish.
Eddie Forgey cashed two checks with the best mud cat and top Roughfish. Howard Griffin was one-hundredth of an ounce off the record croaker with his 2.18 pound-fish.
If you are not impressed with these weights, it is only because you were not on the water Saturday. My hat is off to the winners and everyone in the community that contributed to the record setting tournament.
Julie Lewis, secretary of the S.A.L.T. Club, sent me the results of their July monthly flounder tournament and they had some very solid fish weighed in as well. The flounder bite has not slowed down much all summer long and that is a little unusual. The Club’s August event will be a speckled trout tournament. They will decide on both the date and host at their general meeting on August 5.
Their guest speaker at that meeting will be a representative from either Texas or Louisiana Parks and Wildlife Division.
If you enjoy fishing tournaments, sharing saltwater fishing techniques, and family functions on the water, e-mail Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org. They have something going on year round and they are always looking for new members!