Even as vendors were still hooking up their food trailers and rolling up awnings, an excited youngster stood in awe watching the last of the visiting Bassmaster Elite pros ease out onto Simmons Drive.“When are they coming back,” he shouted in my direction before joining his friends.

Well…….they are back!

It wasn’t like the tournament went unnoticed the last time they were in town hoping to chase down enough bass to earn both a big check and points toward qualifying for the coveted year end Classic. The daily weigh-in crowds set BASS attendance records and I have no doubt that, weather permitting, those records will be broken again this year!

Over the past couple of months, sponsor wrapped bass boats have been checking out every drain and bayou as well as the Sabine and Neches rivers hoping to put together a winning game plan. If nothing else, they are well aware of the fact that the average size of the bass has drastically improved.

A five pound deficit at the end of the first day will no longer end a pro’s chances of making the top ten and fishing the final day.Since they were last here, five fish-sixteen pound plus catches have become the norm and a six pound bass doesn’t earn a second look.

The two major concerns for the visiting pros are rising water due to flooding and the fact that Louisiana waters are off limits.Local flooding isn’t nearly as dreaded as excessive rainfall that may necessitate opening the gates on the major impoundments.Mother Nature controls the negative effects of that potential dilemma.

On the other hand, the state of Louisiana continues to eliminate a significant amount of aquatic real estate that fishermen have long exploited.Navigable water that runs through private property is off limits even if it is ungated or not posted as such.

Many of the anglers were not made aware of that minor detail until the night before the first day blast off in the last event.As you can imagine, it rendered a great deal of practice time useless and the announcement was not well received.There will be no boats taking a left when they hit the Intracoastal this year!

For many kids, as well as their bass fishing parents, the anticipated event affords them the opportunity to speak with one of the visiting pros at one of the promo events. I was talking to Paul Elias the last time they were here when a youngster tapped him on the arm and asked, “Are y’all the real guys that we see on television?”Elias smiled, autographed his hat, and responded, “We try to be.”

Lou Moore called last week to make sure folks knew that the Orange County CCA Chapter has hit yet another home run and will be hosting possibly the best pro in the world at their annual Anglers Night Out event.Their guest speaker will be Kevin VanDam who has won four Classics and seven Angler of the Year titles.

If that weren’t enough to already guarantee him a spot in bass fishing’s Hall of Fame, the Michigan pro has also placed in the money in 246 of the 305 tournaments he has fished and won 24 of them.The scary thing for his fellow competitors is that he is still very much at the top of his game!

The Chapter will host the event at Robert’s Steak House at 6:00 p.m. April 2^nd .There will be raffle tickets and door prizes available as well as the opportunity to join the chapter.For more information as well as to RSVP call 988-3667 or 988-4845. Lou asked that anyone that intended to join them for the evening call early to give them a feel for how many may attend.You will be responsible for the cost of your meal if you plan to eat.

The four day tournament will kick off at 6:45 on April 6^th out of the City of Orange Boat Ramp.Weigh-ins will begin each afternoon at 3:00 p.m.You can call the Orange Chamber of Commerce for a schedule of entertaining events associated with the tournament.

I would suggest arriving early each day or expect a long hike back to the truck!