I am thinking that you better arrive at your favorite boat launch early Saturday morning if you plan on fishing anywhere between Bessie Heights and the jetties. Contestants in both the OCARC tournament and Cops Helping Kids tournament will be vying for parking spaces and enough room to make a cast!

The OCARC has hosted their annual fishing tournament the first weekend in August for a kazillion years, actually closer to 25, so that their patrons would never have to ask about the date and it has out worked nicely. The weigh-in is held at the center on W. Park in Orange, but contestants can launch and fish any public waters within a 40 mile radius.

The entry fee is still a user-friendly $25 and all monies raised are used to benefit the mentally challenged of Southeast Texas. There will be 31 cash winners in 11 categories with a top prize of $250 for the largest red, bass, speck, flounder and Appaloosa red (20 to 27-inch red with the most spots).

The event kicks off Friday evening at 5 p.m. with the weigh-in set for 6 p.m. Saturday evening. For more information or an entry form contact the center at (409)886-1363.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Association also scheduled their Cops Helping Kids tournament on the same date this year and they will undoubtedly draw a big field as well. The money raised in this event will benefit the Garth House and children of Jefferson County.

Due to the difference in everything from entry fees to the format, neither event should affect participation numbers. While the OCARC event is very much a family oriented affair, the Cops Helping Kids event is a team event with a $200 entry for each 2 or 3 man team. Teams can enter as late as the Captain’s meeting to be held at the K T Cattle Company Friday night.

The Captain’s meeting will include a steak dinner and drinks for team members and a live auction as well. Food and some great door prizes will also be given away at the final weigh-in. All contestants must be in the weigh-in line at Dick Dowling Park by 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The total weight of two fish in each category determines the winners. First place will pay $1000, second place pays $750 and third place will pay $500.

If the two winning flounder can be released alive the winning team will earn an additional $500. There will also be cash prizes for first 3.00-pound trout and the dead last stringer. For more information contact Tony Viator at (409) 284-7934.

Keith Daley, owner of Daley’s Hunt N Fish, further sweetened the pot for the contestants in both events with a pre-tournament 15 percent discount on any item not already sale priced. Simply bring your entry form with you to receive your discount. The discount will be in effect until 5 p.m. Friday evening!

It looks like the weather will not be a factor this weekend and right on cue the big trout have started showing up again. We haven’t seen the nine pound-plus trout that showed up on the revetment wall in May, but I have seen four 27-inch trout this week alone and that’s big enough for me! Not surprisingly, all four of those fish were caught on live bait. One of them was caught on a croaker and the other three were caught on finger mullet. What is surprising is that three of those fish were caught in less than three feet of water!

The same mid-county fisherman that caught two of those trout also limited on flounder up to four pounds two days in a row.

The good news for the contestants in both tournaments is that he has no intention of fishing Saturday. He’ll save his hot spot for another day. There is no more wide open division than the redfish category. The Game Reserve, the ship channel, the jetties and the lake are all kicking out great numbers of slot fish. The redfish have been schooling all week long all the way from the Causeway to Stewt’s Island and it is simply a matter of being in casting range when they explode on the surface. A Hoginar or spoon is a good choice as both can be easily launched with a flick of the wrist and distance is an important factor.

If I were fishing the tournament I wouldn’t risk attaching leader material to braided line, but if I were fishing a lighter mono I would add a 20 to 30 pound leader. This is no time to break off a potential winner. Good luck and I hope that all of you will come out and support one of the two organizations this weekend even if fishing doesn’t rank very high on your priority list. These folks deserve our support!

Photo: Redfish like this one will be in big demand Saturday! RECORD PHOTO: Dickie Colburn