The Coastal Conservation Association STAR tourney, which runs through Sept. 3, is getting a lot of attention from Southeast Texas fishermen. One of the most coveted spots on the leader board is held by Sour Lake angler Michael Fesco. He’s leading in the speckled trout category with an 8 pound, 10 ounce trout caught on Sabine Lake with live bait. That’s the heaviest trout to be entered into the STAR in the upper coast division. It was brought in and weighed on certified scales at the SGS Causeway store. By the way, the winner of that division gets a 22-foot Shoalwater Legend with a Mercury 150 and McClain trailer. In case you are not familiar with that boat, you can check them out at Texas Marine in Beaumont.
The heaviest trout in the middle coast division weighed 9 pounds, 8 ounces. The lower coast division leader weighed 9 pounds, 7 ounces.
The heaviest flounder weighed in so far went 7 pounds, 8 ounces. It was caught in the Freeport/Surfside area. That’s going to be a tough one to beat.
Among the most popular fish in the entire STAR tourney is the lowly gaftopsail catfish. The reason why is simple – it’s an easy fish to catch. Like the reds, trout and flounder, a gafftop is worth a boat, motor and trailer prize package. The current leader in the gafftop division weighed 7 pounds, 1 ounce and was caught by League City angler Sean McGuire. But the second- through fifth-place gafftop spots on the leader board are anchored by fishermen from Beaumont, Nederland, Orange and Winnie. Wade Graham of Beaumont is in second place with a 6-9; Debbie Mahon of Winnie is third with a 6-9, Chris Brown of Nederland is fourth with a 6-8 and Randy Harrison of Orange is in fifth place with his catch that weighed 6-8, as well.
All of the second through fifth place gafftops were weighed in at Sportsman’s Supply in Sabine.
Sabine Lake fishing report
Trout fishing on Sabine Lake has been a little slow during the past week. A lot of fresh water is moving into the lake via the Neches and Sabine rivers. Typically in this situation a lot of the trout on the lake move south to the pass and the jetties. Something else you might want to keep in mind is that live baits like finger mullet are very good for big trout right about now. If you’re looking for numbers of 15 to 18 inch trout, try fishing live shrimp at the jetties or under the lights off piers at night.
Game wardens ask teen boaters to play it safe
State game wardens are seeing a number of boating wrecks on popular lakes this summer involving teen boat operators who have not taken mandatory boater education.
While the new law became effective last year, Texas Parks and Wildlife law enforcement officials say many teens and their parents are still unaware of the required certification. A serious boating accident in Central Texas last weekend illustrates a tragic scenario game wardens are hoping can be avoided with proper education.
“The accident occurred on Inks Lake in Llano County and involved a collision between a pair of personal watercraft, one operated by a 14-year-old male and the other by a 16-year-old male with a 16-year-old female passenger,” said TPWD’s Steve Lightfoot. “Witnesses responded to aid the injured and called 911. The 14-year-old was air-lifted to Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin.”
Lightfoot says the boaters did not know each other and all were wearing required personal flotation devices; however, neither operator had taken the mandatory boater education course. The parents were not aware of the age restriction and need of a boater education course or needing to accompany the operators.“The mandatory boater education law requires anyone born on or after Sept. 1, 1993, who operates a vessel with a motor of more than 15 horsepower or a wind-blown vessel measuring more than 14 feet in length take the course or be accompanied by someone 18 or older who meets the boater education requirements or is exempt by age,” said Lightfoot. “Accompany means onboard the craft. While all boaters are encouraged to take boating safety education, those born before Sept. 1, 1993, are exempt from required certification.”
Texas’ state-approved boater education courses are available as one-day classroom training or online. The classroom course takes about six hours to complete and the online course has a three-hour time commitment. Costs start at $20 for both courses. Information about boater education, including schedules of upcoming classroom courses, is available at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/learning/boater_education .
“Boaters falling under the boater education requirement will be required to carry a valid ID and documentation of having taken and passed a boater education course,” said Lightfoot. “Failure to meet the requirements is a Class C misdemeanor, and violators have 90 days to complete a boater education course to have the charges dismissed.
“The 82nd Texas Legislature during its regular session also clarified the definition of a vessel to encompass such craft as standup paddle craft, kayaks and canoes. In Texas public waters everyone onboard a vessel that measures less than 26 feet in length must have a life jacket available, and kids under 13 must wear one.”
Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.