The serious push will start this week as placards advertizing the OCARC fishing tournament pop up overnight all over Orange County. While the center has been a source of pride for this area and well-supported throughout the years, there was a time when the annual fishing tournament was a hard sell.

That is obviously no longer the case as this will mark the 23rd annual event. The weigh-in site has been changed over the years, but little else has required tweaking and the crowds continue to grow. For the second straight year, the final weigh-in will be hosted at the center at 905 w. Park.

There was a time in the late 80’s when we thought winning any of the 11 categories was a pretty big deal and it is still the ultimate goal of each entrant, but this has truly become a social event. Aside from the fact that it is an important fund raiser for the center, it is a kid-oriented family outing where even the spectators may get an up close look at fish they never even knew existed. There is always the possibility that you may even get to see and touch an elusive “Don Hubbard” mudcat.

The rules are the same, the entry fee is still $25, the top four categories still pay out $250 and you can still sign-up at the last minute if the weather is a concern for you. Otherwise, the only changes for this anticipated affair will be the new faces that have discovered why so many folks gather for the final weigh-in.

The tournament actually starts at 5 p.m. Aug. 6th with the final weigh-in set for August 7th at 6 p.m. For more information go by the center or give them a call at 886-1363.

Had you been fighting the wind through the early part of last week you may have been of the opinion that the fish turned on overnight on Sabine. The truth of the matter was that the fish were already doing their thing and the fishermen simply could not get to them.

That all changed about 10:30 Thursday morning. Depending on where you were fishing at that time it was either good or very good. The lake glassed over and the lady fish started banging away at huge schools of shad all over the lake. As it turned out, the south end was probably the better place to be, but we were doing well enough on the north end that we were not going to abandon that bite.

Surprisingly enough, the most consistent bite which had been taking place at daylight slowed down as did the incoming tide. The real reward for the pre-dawn fishermen had been a consistent shot at a trout up to seven-pounds, but those fish were not on the move on the slack tide.

By the time Thursday arrived, the conditions had changed completely. The lake was dead calm and the better tide change was taking place closer to noon than dawn. That proved to be a deadly combination for both numbers and size as well. That bite continued through the weekend for anglers that had the good sense and time to wait out isolated thunderstorms.

When catching fish is simply a matter of locating surface activity, it is criminal to not have the youngsters on board and possibly even more frustrating for them when they are on board, but not equipped with tackle that works. For that matter, it is equally frustrating for adults as well.

If you have a 6- or 7-year-old that can handle a casting reel in the wind, pat yourself on the back and accept the fact that you have a very talented youngster. For the majority of potential anglers ranging from 5 to 85, however, there is no better choice than a well-balanced spinning combination.

The only mistake you can make is buying them a rod that is too short or the action is too light thinking that smaller is better for a shorter child. My 8 year old granddaughter is 4’-2’’ and her 11 year old brother is 5’-0”and they both use identical rods. They use the same medium action 7-foot medium action CastAway that I use everyday.

The only difference right now is that Whitley uses US REEL’S 180X because her hands are much smaller, but Andrew uses the same 230X that I use. Any child can learn to cast with a bail type reel very quickly and that combination will keep them in the game for the rest of their life.

There are cheaper spinning combos that are very efficient, but I still recommend sticking with the 7-foot medium action and a spinning reel that most adequately fits their hand size. That usually means a reel rated for 8 to 14 pound test.

Nicholas Badon and Cal Zackary started off last Friday simply tripping the bail and dropping their bait over the side of the boat. By the time noon rolled around, they were launching tails and Swim baits thirty yards and catching trout up to six pounds.

The only upgrade most anglers will eventually make will be switching from mono to braid as they get more comfortable with their gear. Depending on the money spent on that first combo, they may never change anything other than line for years to come.

One more tip before I hit the water this evening. If you start them out with monofilament add a small barrel swivel and short length of leader to eliminate line twist. They will be equipped to win a battle with the largest trout or red they may encounter and you can get in more casts as well.

About Dickie Colburn