Drinking that first cup of coffee in front of the television at 7:00 in the morning is not the way most folks start their Sundays around here, but I feel certain that it was the norm for lots of Orange County residents this past weekend. ESPN 2 aired last week’s Bassmaster Elite Sabine River Challenge and I thought they did a fantastic job of showing the rest of the viewing world what we have known for a long time…..Orange has far more to offer visitors than its world class fishing!

I am equally sure that even the folks that live here were surprised at just how much water there is to fish after seeing the aerial shots from Taylor’s Bayou all the way to the Calcasieu River. It gave you a much better feel for how much water these pros had to decipher in a few short months.

I also have received a number of emails from local Bassmaster fans that were on hand each day that didn’t realize just how big the crowds actually were until they saw the view through the lens of the camera above the stage. It was much easier to see why the pros were genuinely overwhelmed!

The only negative to the one hour show, in my opinion, was the decision to air a spat that should have never survived the cutting room. My phone rang off the hook with more calls from folks wanting to know about the Rojas-Jones confrontation than any other portion of the show. I was there every day and aside from a call from a friend watching the live tracker on the internet, I never heard it mentioned again until Sunday morning.

Only the people on the scene really know what happened and it may or may not have been unethical on the part of one or both of the fishermen, but it apparently wasn’t illegal. I was disappointed only in the fact that my grandson tuned in to see his hometown in one of its proudest hours, but certainly not to watch one of his bass fishing heroes publicly dis a fellow competitor.

I have always enjoyed watching Rojas figure out the bite on different venues as well as his demeanor on screen, but at the very least, he took an unprofessional approach in publicly addressing an issue that should have been resolved off screen. Aside from a few emails that said that Jones had already been fishing the same stretch of bayou prior to the final day, as viewers we were left to wonder what his position was on the situation. That is probably as it should be!

The bottom line is that Orange did itself proud and ESPN’s coverage of the city and its people was magnificent. It is amazing how much you take for granted until you view it all through the eyes of others. A well deserved “Thank You” to both ESPN and the Bassmaster Elite series!

Now…back to what makes the world go round for most local fishermen. While it has been officially confirmed that our bass fishing is indeed a tough, but fair test….our inshore saltwater fishing is world class. With the exception of this past Saturday, we have had to fight horrendous winds, but the catching has still been very good for not only trout and redfish, but flounder as well.

The Triangle Tail Chasers kicked off their tournament season and chase for angler of the year Saturday morning out of Ancelet’s Marina. These are team events and the format allows each team to weigh in a Texas slam of two trout, two redfish and two flounder. Indicative of just how good the fishing has been, the top five teams all managed to weigh in slams!

Albert Bates and Mike Veitch were the last team to weigh in and they saved the best for last with a total catch of 26.35 pounds. “As a rule we catch our two reds first and work to fill out our trout and flounder, but that wasn’t the case this time,” said Bates. “We had ten pounds of trout right off the bat, caught our two flounder fairly easily and spent the rest of the day trying to upgrade our redfish.”

Steven Havard and Kory Earp finished second with a solid 24.01 pounds followed by the team of Michael Lange and Ryan McKeever with 23.8 pounds. Even the tenth place team finished with over 15 pounds so you had to be on your game Saturday.

The side pot money was awarded to the team with the largest “Black jack Trout,” the trout closest to 21-inches without going over the mark, and the competition was fierce as three teams weighed in fish separated by only a quarter of an inch. When the final measurement was taken the team of Bobby James and Jim Oliff walked off with the pot with a trout that measured 20 15/16 inches!

The club continued to grow with the addition of 12 new members. The next event is scheduled for April 20.

Joe Matthews with nice trout taken on another windy day. RECORD PHOTO: Dickie Colburn