I cannot recall an O.C.A.R.C. weigh-in ever going as smoothly as it did this past Saturday. I am still trying to decide whether or not there were just fewer fish brought to the scales or if John Thomas and his volunteers simply ironed out all of the kinks after 24 consecutive years of hosting the event!

I do, in fact, believe that there were fewer fish weighed in, but there was at least one entry in every category and, as predicted in last week’s column, we saw some nice size croaker and big catfish at day’s end. Reyna Owens won the croaker division with a 1.25-pound fish and Orbin Ross lugged a 34.4-pound catfish to the scales. We have caught a number of very solid croaker all summer long and it is good to see them rebounding as they are a very good eating fish!

The winners in the top four paying categories all weighed in very respectable fish to earn their $250 first place checks. Kevin Staudemeir’s 27-inch red was a healthy 6.75-pound fish. Candi Hall won the trout division with a 5.55-pound speck, Jim Foster proved that the flounder bite is not over with a very nice 3.52-pound flattie and Chad Kemp bested the bass fishermen with a very respectable 2.96-pound bass.

Sammy Hall said that while the fishing on the jetties was slow, they did catch a few more quality specks in addition to Candi’s winning trout. Some of the contestants that fished the lake said that they caught decent numbers of trout, but no big fish. Kevin really got his money’s worth out of every inch of his winning redfish as the maximum qualifying length for this tournament is 27 inches!

We have had a phenomenal flounder year and caught some really nice flounder, but Foster’s 3.52-pound flounder is a darn good fish any time of the year. His fish should rekindle some interest for a number of local anglers that quit fishing for flounder when the bite got a little tougher following the recent rains.

The majority of the bass fishermen I talked with at the weigh-in said that they caught a lot of small bass, but just couldn’t catch anything over the 14-inch mark. Texas legal bass have been tough to come by for river fishermen over the past two weeks.

Most of the weekly river tournament fishermen agreed going in that a fish in the three pound class would be hard to beat. Their pre-tournament assessment proved to be right on the money as Chad Kemp easily out distanced the field with his thick bodied 2.96-pound largemouth.

Mike Chargois said that he and his partner caught at least a hundred bass over the course of the day, but all of them were small fish.He did, however, at least pay for his gas by winning the sunfish category with a .46-pound perch.It was good to see the number of goggle-eye weighed in as they really struggle when the salinity level rises in the river.

Only one white perch was weighed in, but it would have been hard to beat anyway. Willie Patin took home the money with a .91-pound crappie.Austin Borel proved that the apple does not fall far from the tree in winning the grinnel division with a 3.17-pound fish. Andy said they haven’t been able to fish much lately, but it appears that he has definitely handed down a few of his secrets.

This year’s winner of the coveted “Don Hubbard” mudcat category was Eddie Forgey. I don’t know what the tournament record is after all of these years, but Forgey had to be close with his 2.53-pound winning fish!

While the fishing was not especially easy last week, we did well through Friday. We took advantage of schooling redfish all week long and fared surprisingly well with the trout considering the weak tides. The best bite was very early with the trout, while the reds waited until it was blistering hot to do their thing each day.

We caught most of our trout on small top waters early then switched to Swim Baits and Suspending lures to catch them later in the morning. Swimming Images, Catch V’s, Corkies and Maniac Mullets all produced at least a few fish each day. We also caught a few fish swimming Assassins and Trout Killers on a 1/16^th ounce head just beneath the surface or drifting tails under a popping cork.

The birds are starting to work a little more and we are just now starting to see some shrimp in the lake. I don’t look forward to having to avoid boats racing across the lake from one flock to another, but like it or not, bay rage is just around the corner!