Light winds and heavy fish
After two frigid months and a solid week of howling winds, the weather this past weekend was just what the doctor ordered. It could not have been more perfect for the Rayburn and Toledo Bend fishermen and aside from the early morning fog and an afternoon wind, the saltwater anglers could find little to complain about as well.
It came as no surprise finding my in-box full of e-mails with both the redfish tournament taking place out of Port Neches Park and the Big Bass Splash in full swing on Rayburn all weekend. The folks that fished Toledo Bend hoping to avoid those crowds also found most of the coves filled with bass boats, but they still enjoyed a very solid bite on both bass and crappie.
Darrell Munsey and his 11-year old daughter Leila fished Friday afternoon and most of the day Saturday and Sunday in the Buck creek-Indian Creek area on T-Bend. Leila’s softball tournament had been cancelled, but she still hit a home run.
She caught her first bass over 8-pounds Saturday morning fishing a fluke in 6 to 10 feet of water. Darrell caught five more over six-pounds fishing for bass only in the mornings. He caught those fish on the fluke and jerking a chrome Suspending Rogue down over submerged grass.
The report only gets better as they caught and released every bass, but still took 2 gallons of fillets home for a reunion fish fry. They crappie fished Friday and Saturday evenings from 4 p.m. until dark and culled 64 fish from 3/4 lb. to 2.3-lbs. Darrell said they were fishing around several other boats that did not do nearly as well. They strolled 1/16th-ounce black-blue tube jigs until they caught a fish and then stopped and cast to them until they quit biting.
Unless you were Randy Martin of Lufkin, the biggest news off Rayburn was the monster alligator gar landed on day1 of the Big Bass Splash. Martin was still leading the event after day two with his 9.15-lb. bass, but Jarod Holcomb of Basile, La. drew the biggest crowd when he arrived back at the weigh-in with a 197-pound gar!
He said he knew he had something big when the fish hit his Whacky worm and started pulling drag. As a matter of fact, it pulled drag for the better part of a solid hour before he and his partner could get a rope around it and haul the fish over the side.
Holcomb’s giant gar broke the existing 14-pound line class record by 8-pounds. That was not the first time someone showed up at a Big Bass Splash weigh-in with a huge gar. Two years ago, a fifteen year old girl landed a 185-pound in a Sealy tournament. Bob may have to add another division in the future.
When the wind died Saturday morning, it was “game-on” for the 36 teams chasing the $10,000 first place check in the redfish tournament hosted out of Pt. Neches Park. Part of the field ran as far east as Big Lake while a portion of the field headed back to Galveston in search of two winning redfish.
The folks that practiced all week long and pieced together dependable programs in a howling wind were not pleased with the perfect weather conditions. They still caught their fish, but the absence of wind brought a lot more water into play.
Either way, the entire field was impressed with the size of the fish produced in the one day event. It took a two-fish limit of 17.25-pounds to earn top money and 15 pounds just to finish in the top ten. When you can only weigh fish up to 28-inches in length it takes very healthy fish to average better than 7.5- pounds.
The ship channel and jetties produced the most consistent bite on not only slot fish, but oversized reds as well. I talked with several teams that fished the event and they caught fish on everything from Gulp to crankbaits.
While they didn’t quite make the Top 10, I doubt that any team enjoyed the event more than Capt. Chuck and his son, Hunter. I also doubt that any other team spent the day in the company of more slot redfish. Chuck found several big schools in a shallow marsh and they had two keepers in the livewell after only six casts.
“There was never a time during the first hour or so that we were not surrounded by schools of feeding reds,” said Chuck. “We caught a pile of fish on topwaters, but just couldn’t fool an upper end slot fish.”
He was equally quick to point out in summing up his day, “I still wouldn’t trade our day for the first place check. We competed as a team, shared the excitement of anticipation and laughed together for eight hours. Watching Hunter carry our two fish up on the weigh-in stage was just icing on the cake!”