I haven’t spoken with a single angler that fished last weekend’s Big Bass Splash on Toledo Bend, but I think that it is probably safe to assume that the 3,527 entrants were forced to deal with the same howling wind that raked the entire Texas coast.

The good news was that they could at least trailer and fish protected coves and creeks. The bad news is that 3000 other anglers all had the same idea!

Wesley Thomas of Converse, La. made the most of the home field advantage factor and eventually staked his claim to a new truck, bass boat and $2500. He caught his 9. 62-pound winning fish on Day 1 and had to sweat out the remaining two days which included two near misses Sunday morning. Two more nine pounders were weighed in during the 8 to 9 a.m. hour, but both fell ounces short.

Thomas caught his winning fish on a Strike King 10 XD crankbait. Toledo Bend is a joint venture impoundment between Texas and Louisiana, but the amateur bass fishermen from the state of Louisiana put a whooping on their neighbors in this event. The top five places were all won by Louisiana fishermen as were five of the six exact weight checks worth $5000 each!

It was a back yard affair for three of the top five as the towns of Converse, Many and Anacoco are little more than a long cast from the lake. Orange anglers, however, earned their fair share of hourly money as they cashed eight hourly checks. Keith Worthy kicked the whole thing off by winning the first hour of the first day and Joe Stidham won the 9-10 hour on Day 2. Both bass were worth $1000 and Worthy netted an additional $400 on Day 3.

While post spawn double digit bass proved hard to find and even harder to catch, the numbers were certainly there. The final totals for the three day event showed that the 3,527 entrants brought 3009 bass to the scales. The next in-state McDonalds Big Bass Splash is scheduled for Lake Fork the weekend of September 20^th on Lake Fork.

If you are a bay fisherman you had to really want to fish to take your chances on Sabine Lake or Calcasieu this past weekend. There was some catching that took place even in the open lake, but the whitecaps added to the challenge.

Brad Deslatte took his act to Calcasieu over the weekend and basically reported that the only thing he found different across the river was significantly more boat traffic. He added that anglers crowding into the back water lakes and narrow bayous also found both land owners and Game Wardens on hand to explain what is and isn’t considered to be navigable water!

He also added that every available launch was packed in spite of the wind and that several local guides told him that they no longer try to even guide on the weekends. He had two good fishermen with him and they managed to catch only a few reds and a handful of small trout in two days.

The last of the runoff was the biggest problem for Sabine anglers opting to fish the semi- protected water in the ICW and the ship channel. There were some decent trout as well as redfish caught by the more persistent anglers with the better catches coming out of the lower ship channel. Two groups did well fishing live mullet on a Carolina rig, but most of the fish were caught on tails.

The bite in the canals and drains in the Game reserve was very decent provided you had enough boat to safely get you across the open lake. Once you were there it was dealer’s choice as far as lures were concerned. Some of the better flounder catches were made by anglers fishing GULP on a quarter ounce head, but 3 inch Usual Suspects in Cock of the Walk and Silver Shiner colors worked as well.

The Swim Baits and four inch paddle tails like the Sea Shad and Flats Minnow in pumpkin-chartreuse and red shad yielded not only flounder but redfish and trout up to five pounds as well. I talked with Adam DeRouen at the Riverfront Park celebration Saturday evening and he said that you don’t have to fish the VuDu shrimp under a cork to catch fish which was news to me.

He said that he and his daughter have done very well on flounder and small slot reds lately fishing the shrimp with a 1/8^th ounce split shot pinched on his line about a foot above the lure. They are basically fishing it at the mouth of cuts when the water is moving. He said the drum and gafftops like it as well and that his daughter could care less as long as something is pulling back!

Hopefully, Mother Nature will be a little kinder to area folks fishing the annual S.A.L.T. Club Memorial Day Tournament this weekend. Headquarters for the event will be the club house on Pleasure Island, it kicks off Friday night at midnight with the final weigh-in set for Sunday evening and the entry fee is only $40.

There will be an inshore division only this year with a top prize of $750 up for grabs for the largest trout, flounder and redfish. Each category will pay three places. The largest drum, sheepshead and croaker are also worth cash prizes. You can pick up an entry form at Simon Outfitters and Peggy’s On the Bayou.

Flounder bite has been consistent in the bayous.