ON OUTDOORS: Fishing picture made clear

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Local fishing tournaments paint an interesting picture of the health of a fishery as well as the trends anglers are experiencing on the water.

This year’s OCARC tournament is a prime example. Held last weekend, it covers both fresh and saltwater and has hundreds of participants fishing everywhere from Sabine Lake, Sabine Jetties, Neches River, Bessie Heights Marsh, Sabine River, Keith Lake and beyond.

We are going to compare some of the key categories with last year’s results and offer a bit of commentary as to what is going on here.

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This year’s top speckled trout was caught by Jacob Jordan and weighed 4.40 pounds. Second place was 3.60 and caught by Kevin Smith and Brandon Brasseaux caught the 3.31-pound third place speck.

Last year’s top trout was a whopping 6.21 pounds with second place at 5.07 and third 3.79. In 2014 the first place fish was 6.04 pounds.
So, what is going on with the local trout population?

I think it is the incredible amount of freshwater we have had in the system this year. Studies shows the very largest trout prefer the most saline water conditions and this just hasn’t been a year where there have been big concentrations of trout all over the system. Most of them have been on the south end of Sabine Lake with scattered fish in other locales. In a normal year there would be viable trophy fisheries in the river systems and while there are a few trout there it is obviously not at the usual level.

Flounder were at the same level as last year with Nolan Haney taking first place with 2.68 ponds, Craig Corder coming in second with 2.41 and Brooklyn Goldsmith at 2.39 for third. Last year’s lineup was 2.65 pounds for first, 2.60 for second and 2.10 for third.

Flounder are more freshwater tolerant and are more scattered in the system now. Interestingly, the 2014 results showed a bigger group of flounder with 3.83, 3.55 2.92 taking the payouts. Our local flounder fishery has been solid for a few years which should bode well for some big fish and solid numbers come this fall during the fall migration period.

Donna Vaughn’s 8.09 pound redfish took first place followed by Kevin Vaughn at 7.91 and Jacob Jordan at 7.89. That’s higher than last year when 7.16, 7.15 and 7.09 were the top OCARC reds. And on a sidenote, I salute OCARC and the SALT Club who years ago banned trophy tag redfish at their tournaments. They are doing a good thing by not promoting the killing of the big breeding-sized fish.

This year’s bass results were good with Taylor Guidry weighing in a 4.04-pounder for first, followed by Matt Bertrand at 2.51 for second and Trey Smith at 2.32 for third. Last year’s results for comparison were 3.72, 3.23 and 2.76. Going back to 2014, the winning weights were 3.19, 2.89 and 2.63.

For local bass those are not bad catches and show a trend toward more solid fish in the ecosystem. We took a very serious hit with Rita and Ike’s fish kills. It looks like things are getting back on track for our local bass fishery.

We have been blessed over the last decade with an incredible fisheries offering world-class fishing action for local anglers. Just a few decades ago, catching a redfish big enough to keep was a true challenge.

Now it is sometimes hard to catch one small enough to fit in the slot limit. Flounder and speckled trout have had similar rebounds.

The best fishing of the year is ahead of us as October and November are by far our best months for reds, specks and flounder. And with anglers able to catch fish like this during the heat of summer during a year with massive flooding, I have a feeling things are going to be amazing when the days grow short and the temperatures cool.

Great times are ahead on our local waters. Keep your eyes on these pages for detailed information on how to best enjoy our local fishing opportunities.

(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at chester@kingdomzoo.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com.)