It seems like only yesterday that James Chargois and I stopped fishing long enough one morning to discuss everything from the river itself to the ospreys nesting on the same high line tower every year. At the same time we were absorbing the shade of an over-hanging gum tree on the east side of the river, they were clearing land immediately across from us for the new Public Boat launch on Simmons Drive.

“Well…there goes the neighborhood,” said Chargois with a look of genuine disgust on his face.“For years a handful of fishermen have had the river all to ourselves and now they go and build a boat launch right across from a couple of our best spots!”

While I fished Sabine Lake and Toledo more than the river, I couldn’t have agreed more with his assessment.When the river wasn’t my Plan A, it was at the very least, a reliable Plan B on those windy days when fishing the open lake was impossible.Ironically enough, the user-friendly bass fishing of earlier years continued to diminish, while the trout, red and flounder steadily improved even well above the I-10 bridge.

Two hurricanes and the recent flooding caused by the massive release on Toledo Bend completely reversed that trend and the bass fishermen are now reaping the only up-side of those catastrophic events.The bass are once again everywhere while the saltwater species have now become more difficult to consistently catch.

Before cranking up our engines and departing ways, we agreed on one more thing.Like it or not, the new boat launch was badly needed, not only for recreational fishermen, but commercially as well.In just a few short years, along with the promotional work of a few determined local citizens, the facility has hosted not only fund raisers for countless local organizations, but both major freshwater and saltwater tournaments as well.

The “Charg” recently passed away much too young, but if he were still with us he would still be successfully ferreting out new hot spots while further validating his legendary reputation.And one last thing….I think that he would agree that the neighborhood is doing just fine!

The Simon Outfitter “Tuesday Evening River” circuit kicked off this week.The results come in one day late each week due to press issues, but the tournament has really proven popular with local bass fishermen.For more information on fishing these events or signing up, simply drop by the shop located on MacArthur Drive.

The Orange County CCA chapter will host a team redfish event the weekend of May 19^th for youngsters 12 to 18 that are enrolled in school.The format will be similar to that used by the high school bass clubs.Every team must have a sponsor 21 or older and everyone, including the sponsor, must be a CCA member. We’ve got a while and I will have more information as we get closer to that date, but you might want to keep that weekend open.

Good things happen to good people.Last month, Jim Franklin and Beaver Aplin entered a Little Cypress fund raising tournament at the very last minute on Toledo Bend.They not only donated their entry fee, but their first place check and the big bass pot as well back to the hosting organization.At the same time, they finished second in a much larger tournament.

The story for Franklin, however, does not end there.This past weekend he teamed up with Ricky Madole to best 500 other teams and win the Louisiana Oilman’s Invitational on Toledo Bend.The pair brought in a two day total of 47.34 pounds. Jim no longer lives here, but was raised in Orange and graduated from LCM.

He only recently got back into bass fishing after a decade of winning darn near every tournament that had anything to do with speckled trout from Matagorda to Sabine Lake.Not surprisingly, he was a successful bass club fishermen while competing against older anglers even in his high school days. Had there been high school bass tournaments when he was a student at LCM, every monthly tournament may well have been another Jim Franklin Invitational!