With conditions being close to perfect, the 2016 edition of the Texas Oilman’s Charity Invitational Fishing Tournament kicked off on Friday and wrapped up the following day with anglers bringing in catches that have been very strong.
The tournament took place at Matagorda Harbor.
When fisherman took off in their boats at the start of the competition, most were met with some strong winds. But as Friday progressed, the blustery conditions began to quiet down.
“The fishing conditions have been good,” said weight master Ray Denson. “The wind has laid somewhat today. It’s been blowing swiftly over the last two days but the anglers have told me that they’ve found some good conditions.”
Gary Krenek, who is one of the anglers, said the wind started to calm down around lunchtime.
“It was very windy, very rough,” Krenek said. “But around noon, it calmed down and turned out to be a beautiful day. It took us a while to finally find some fish but we found some. They were all legal but very small. It was just another day in paradise.”
There’s been no shortage of fish coming in.
On Saturday, conditions were mostly hot but blustery conditions still lingered.
“It was hot. It was hot and windy but it was still a lot better than Friday, for sure,” said Kyle Sustaita from Alvin, who was a member of Team Aquamarine “It was probably around 10 miles per hour but that wasn’t as bad as (Friday). It calmed down but then picked up in the afternoon. This morning it was bad though too. The wind was pretty bad in the morning on both days”
But the conditions didn’t appear to be much of a problem.
“We’ve had a few fish come in,” Denson said. “The largest trout has been 6 pounds so we’ve had some nice fish. Additionally, we’ve had a 32 pound black drum weighed in which is the largest fish that we’ve had the opportunity to weigh on Friday.”
That black drum was actually 32.08 pounds that was caught by Darrell White.
In the speckled trout category, Rylee Tettleton came in first with a weigh-in of 6 pounds and 6 ounces.
Sustaita and his teammates had a strong showing with red fishes, catching eight total in that category.
“We did really well. We were one redfish shy of the three-man limit,” Sustaita said. “We caught some nice trout. Had some sheephead too. We didn’t catch any flounder but everything else we did really well in.”
But catching red fish isn’t very easy sometimes.
“The red fish put up a really good fight,” Sustaita said. “They’re always fun to catch though. They put up a fight. You better be ready.”
Time didn’t appear to be against them either.
“We were actually done pretty early with catching red fish,” Sustaita said. “We were at the dock on Friday at 3 p.m. and today we were here two hours before weigh-in. the water got hot and the fish stopped biting so we came in early but we still did great on Saturday morning.”
Johnny Clawson would take the top spot in sheephead with 4 pounds, 7 ounces.
James Bohannon won the snapper with a catch that weighed 7 pounds and 10 ounces while Larry Feeler took first in the cobia at 25 pounds, 5 ounces.
Other first place winners included James Gagneaux in the king mackerel, Micah McFarlane for wahoo and Steve Farley in the grouper.
Krenek who’s apart of Team W.D. Vongotten along with Erwin Ward and Ronnie Bose, brought in a decent number of fishes, most of them tripletails.
“The goal for us has been to win,” Krenek said. “We want to get first, second and third in the triple tail.”
For others, the objective was just to enjoy the weekend.
“We just wanted to have fun,” Sustaita said. “That was it. Catching fish was a bonus.”
“It’s a blast to be participating. It’s for a good cause and a lot of fun. We’ll be back next year.”
All in all, Krenek said it was a successful day for him and his teammates.
“We fished around a lot of the channel markers in the bay and we’re allowed three triple tail apiece. I think we ended up with eight total today. It’s been a fun filled day,” Krenek said.
Krenek would take first in the tripletail category with a weigh-in of 7 pounds and 15 ounces.
The Texas Oilman’s Charity Invitational Fishing Tournament has been held every year since 2002. That inaugural event brought in $109,000 with approximately 600 participants.
Since then, the tournament has continued to grow at a rapid pace. Last year’s event has close to 1,060 people participating, which included 641 fishermen, 26 local tent sponsors and a vast number of guests. The proceeds from the 2015 tournament totaled $450,000.
Donations from the event have gone to local charities with $430,000 donated in 2015 to 39 charities. Over the last fourteen years, about $6.3 million have been donated to charities from the event.
Though, with the price of oil being low recently, Denson says there have been a few challenges.
“With the oil being the way it’s been, it’s been a limited with the participants,” Denson said. “But, I might add that as of last year, I believe, this tournament has raised close to $6.2 million for local charities. “It’s been very rewarding for all who have volunteered for this. It’s grown every year even with the price of oil being down.”
Krenek, who has fished the TOCIFT for a number of years, now, is blessed to keep participating.
“It’s a good tournament and a good charity organization to raise money for the county,” Krenek said. “We’re honored to fish here.”