S.A.L.T. Tournament kicks off summer fishing

When we climbed out of the truck Sunday afternoon to take in the final weigh-in for the 40th annual S.A.L.T. Memorial Day Tournament, it wasn’t the line of fishermen at the scales or any of the well appointed bay boats lining the side of the road that immediately garnered my grandson’s attention…..it was the aroma of boiled crawfish.

The fact that Ancelet’s was doing the boiling sealed the deal and we were eating crawfish before I could even talk to the folks hosting the annual event. Unfortunately for Andrew and I, the crawfish season is drawing to a close, but I can say that without exception that no place we have eaten this spring does it better than they do.

Between CCA banquets and traveling to baseball tournaments, we have eaten crawfish from Clear Lake to Breaux Bridge and there is still a wide gap between second place and Ancelet’s when it comes to both the seasoning and ease of peeling. I’ve gotten a little off track here, but dang they are good!

There were 213 entries in this year’s event and the only category that was a little disappointing was the largest speckled trout. Steve Walker won it with a respectable 5.66 pound fish and a number of contestants said they went through good numbers of fish, but the larger trout just did not show up. According to the folks that fished the event, the better numbers came out of the clearer water in the ship channel.

The heaviest redfish, on the other hand, was a pig as it was only 25.7 inches long and weighed 10.13 pounds. Ian Griffith cashed the top check for that fish. Kenny Ratcliff won the flounder division with a solid 4.87 pound fish. Eleven of the fourteen flounder weighed in were released alive!

The other winners in the adult division were Devin Cryer (sheepshead-4.92 pounds), Jason Stepan (black drum-13.85 pounds), Chad Henslee and Gerald McCullogh tie (blackjack red closest to 21”), Erin Sonnier (redfish with most spots-21) and Daneen Chadwick won the Lady Angler award with 15.0 pounds.

In the Kid’s Division the individual winners were Tanner Trahan, Anthony Trahan, Jonathan Doan, Ryan Peltier, Jaycee Kibodeaux, Hunter Wyble, Connor Jubot, Chase Scales and Sydney Nicklebur. Jim Morrissey, the individual that does such a phenomenal job of posting results for most of the local events and sees a lot of fish said the highlight of the weigh-in for him was Anthony Trahan’s winning crab. The huge blue claw crab weighed 1.51 pounds and the shell measured 8 5/8ths inches from tip to tip. The claws measured an incredible 22 inches from tip to tip. County Home and Ranch is going to have it mounted for the youngster!

Hats off once again to the handful of S.A.L.T. Club officers and volunteers that make this event such a huge success every year. They never missed a beat following Ike’s destruction and their new clubhouse is an asset to be enjoyed by all of the members. The club prides itself on being family oriented in everything they do and welcomes new members throughout the year. From learning new techniques from monthly speakers to fishing monthly tournaments, you will not spend another nickel on fishing this year better spent than a membership in the S.A.L.T. Club.

The S.T.A.R. tournament is officially open for the summer and I would love to see someone win the upper coast trout division on Sabine Lake. A tagged redfish for a registered angler is the ultimate prize for adult fishermen, but the kids can win a significant portion of their college education money with one fish. Sign up today and you won’t have to fear the sinking feeling associated with losing $50,000 to $100,000 on a fish simply because you failed to ante up the cost of a few lures.

We finally caught a little break with the wind this week and caught more trout in a couple of days than we had caught in the past two weeks. The river and bayous were still dirty, but the water in the lake was in very good shape. We are supposed to get more wind and rain this week, but we’ll just have to wait and see as I am convinced the weather man never looks out of his window!

The bigger negative, at least for the north end of the lake, is that Toledo Bend is still generating everyday and I can’t tell that it has resulted in much of a draw down thus far. They evidently got a lot more rain than we did somewhere up the country.

I did talk with two groups of anglers that fished the SALT tournament that limited on trout up to three pounds the first day drifting the Causeway reefs. That much anticipated bite has been slow to come around so that was good news. It can be a very productive safe haven when a south wind has the rest of the lake blown out.