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Poco Bueno's inshore division yields big reward for winners

By Alexandria Alejandro
July 19, 2014 at 2:19 a.m.
Updated July 20, 2014 at 2:20 a.m.

Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament participant David Hemphill, 45, of Katy, holds up the fish he caught with his teammate on the final day of the tournament at the Fishing Center weigh-in in Port O'Connor.

PORT O'CONNOR - Step aside, blue marlin.

Redfish and trout are king.

Anglers hauled in their final catch Saturday, and new winners of the inshore and fly divisions were crowned at the 45th annual Poco Bueno Fishing Tournament.

Vic Schaefer and Jim Wisor of team Hail State won the inshore portion as master anglers with a combined 46.55 points.

Jerrod Poffenberger and Luke Luedeker of team Dragon Fly took first in the fly portion with 31.5 points.

All weigh-ins took place at Port O'Connor's the Fishing Center on Friday and Saturday afternoons.

The offshore part of the tournament, which features competitors in search of big fish, mostly blue marlin, was canceled Thursday - the first day of the tournament - because of inclement weather.

But it still drew an impressive turnout.

"The crowd is great," said Walter Fondren, the tournament coordinator whose father, Walter W. Fondren III, started the event in 1969. "That's the fun part. It's nice to see guys coming out. We have good guys who grew up here, left and came back fishing, and it's great from that standpoint. We love it when local guys come and fish. Here, it's all recreation."

The inshore portion, in which two-man teams gain points for pounds, went on Friday and Saturday as planned.

"The inshore guys are great," said Fondren. "Yesterday was a dicey day. The front came through, and it was really scary, but everybody got in safe."

Fondren said the communities of Port O'Connor, Port Lavaca, Palacios and Seadrift, among others, are represented at the tournament.

Avid fishermen, too, like Jim Whitmore, 64, of Crockett, compete at the tourney. He made the 4 p.m. cutoff time by two minutes.

"Just in time," said Whitmore, who, along with Bellaire's Keith Doty, made up team Dos Peros Grande. "I'm pretty happy with my catch."

Whitmore, who has been fishing for 30 years, caught three redfish Saturday. It's the only tournament he competes in year after year.

"It's great," he said. "Fondren is doing an excellent job."

There were 107 inshore teams registered. About 65 made the deadline Friday and around the same number made it Saturday.

There were 117 boats registered in the canceled offshore portion.

It was the first competition for Philip Leman, 48, of Austin, and he, too, was impressed.

"It's great," said Lemant of team Fishmore. "It's well-organized. It's well-run. It's a great Texas tradition."

It sure was for the Fondrens.

"It started out with my dad and a bunch of his friends wanting to showcase what it was like to fish out of Port O'Connor," Fondren said. "People come here to have fun and to fish. And so that's the legacy of my dad. That tradition brings a lot of families together."

The tournament is an invitation-only, family-run fishing tournament held every summer, and Fondren said it will likely stay that way.

"We don't have sponsors. We don't advertise," he said. "As long as people come in, have a good time and follow the rules, they can stay as long as they want."

The tournament will return next summer.

And if the weather permits it, blue marlin just might reign supreme once again.



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