El Campo native brings in first blue marlin
PORT O'CONNOR - An El Campo native caught the first blue marlin of the Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament on Friday morning.
"This (tournament) means everything to us," Clay Coan, who snagged the fish, said. "We have been coming down here and fishing Poco for many, many years. We have a house here in Port O'Connor so it is a big deal for us. We absolutely just love being down here for Poco," said Coan, who now lives in Houston.
Weighing in at 446.5 pounds and caught 110 miles off-shore, the massive fish hung limply from the weigh station as the cheering crowd shot photos and videos with their smart phones.
"My favorite part was when it got reeled in (for weighing). I got blood all over my hands," 5-year-old Carter Richards said gleefully, holding up his hands to show the gore.
Carter proudly stood by the fish and the six-man team. His uncle, Ramsey Richards, captained the Hydrocarbon and his dad, Jess Richards, was also on the team.
Anita Richards, mother of Ramsey and Jess, made sugar cookies sprinkled with blue icing to celebrate the blue marlin.
Walter Fondren, whose father founded the tournament in 1969, said this excitement is exactly what Poco Bueno is about.
"There are people who have fished this tournament with their dads," Fondren said. "I was 9 years old when it started, running around with no shirt, no shoes, just having a good time in the summer... It is a time to meet new friends and see old ones."
Carter had been reeling with excitement since 9 a.m., when the family got the call that the team had caught the first fish.
"We were screaming and jumping up and down, and the baby cried," Carter described.
The team should get about $30,000 for catching the first marlin, said Chance Stone, a member of the team.
"We have been excited," Stone said. "We got it early in the morning and just kept fishing. We only fought it for about 30 minutes."
The team has been fishing in the tournament together since 2005, when they won second place in the off-shore contest.
Fondren said family is an important part of the tournament, especially since it is family-run by him and his five brothers and sisters.
"We all kind of found our niche and we work together as a family," Fondren said.
He said the tournament also brings a lot of tourism to Port O'Connor.
Becky Spicak, originally from Port O'Connor but currently living in Victoria, said her family comes back for the tournament regularly.
"I love this smell," she said. "I always know I'm almost home when I smell the fish and the salty air."
Her son, 4-year-old Cole, cast his kiddie pole off the pier from The Fishing Center, catching two perch Friday afternoon. But then, he learned from the best.
"My dad catches big fish," Cole said, as he waited for his dad, Chuck Spicak, to come in from the in-shore Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament Friday afternoon.
The Spicak family make up just a few of the hundreds who come to Port O'Connor each year for the tournament.
Cheryl Nowlin, originally from Port O'Connor, said her two brothers, Randy and Keith Hudson, of Port O'Connor, are in the off-shore tournament.
"We are from here, grew up here, all of our lives," she said. "We did this as kids, so we grew up with the Fondren boys, so that is fun. But this is the first year we have been in the competition."
She hopes they win it, bringing in the largest fish Saturday.
The Hydrocarbon crew, not wanting to miss out on any more action than necessary, disappeared shortly after the weigh-in, taking the crew back out to, hopefully, they said, reel in another, bigger, blue marlin.