Team Hooters busts out



PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Like a sprinkler after a Texas barbecue, someone has turned on the bite at the jetties during the Oh Boy! Oberto Redfish Cup in Port Arthur.

After Day Two's early-summer party had ended, Chris Wittman and Tom Winrow presented two redfish weighing 17.56 pounds to lead the tournament before weights are zeroed for the top five teams fishing Sunday.

"The whole week of pre-fishing, we caught only one fish over 8 pounds," said Wittman. "The rest were all just 4's and 5's."

Team Hooter's 34.25-pound total moved the Florida anglers to the top of the leaderboard, just 2 ounces ahead of Louisiana's Kevin and "Cajun" Phil Broussard.

The Broussard boys finished Day Two with a 15.92-pound stringer, slipping after a dominating first day. In third place heading into Sunday, Paul Jueckstock and Manny Perez made the cut with 15.75 pounds. Kris Walter and Randy Hendrick climbed from seventh place into the fourth after catching a 16.69-pound stringer. Taking the last position in the top five, Roland Martin and Steve Loyd nabbed 16.37 pounds of redfish for a 32.02-pound total.

Wittman and Winrow repeated the same strategy implemented on Day One again during Saturday's action.

"Today, we went to get our 10, 11 pounds — and then went out front to upgrade," Wittman said.

"Out front" means the 4 miles of jetties leading out into the Gulf, approximately 12 miles south of the venue. During the afternoon of Day Two, the anglers targeting the deeper water took notice once the bigger, slot-sized fish started appearing.

"Once that tide turns around in the afternoon, they're anywhere from 6 to 20 feet off the rocks out there," said Perez of Team Under Armour.

As for catching fish on the jetties, most anglers have yet to reveal which baits work best, since a number of different approaches seem to be doing the trick on the structure.

But Roland Martin, the highly-recognized former BASS pro, didn't have a problem offering up his team's successful technique: "It's the ABC's of bass fishing," he said, "You crankbait and you have your bait coming down bumping right against the rocks."

Testing new technique along the way, Walter and Hendrick, in fourth place, had abandoned their pre-tournament plans on Day One, instead choosing to focus on the jetties. After a solid first day, the duo returned to the same places on Day Two to find a bigger stringer.

"We're just two shallow water, sight-fishermen from Florida," Walter said. "We threw everything out of the boat here and now are catching fish in ways we never have."

The Broussards represented the only angler pairing not joining other anglers out in the open water. The Louisiana marsh specialists stuck to marshes on Day Two, despite two other tournament boats and a handful of local anglers in their once-isolated hole.

Left wondering about what Sunday's final will hold, "Cajun" Phil compared Day One and Day Two's results.

"Yesterday, he'd (Kevin) throw at the bait and they moved towards it," he said. "Today, he'd throw and they'd slide away from it. They were spooked."

Will they (the weekend anglers) be back tomorrow? And will those fish settle down?

Whether the Broussards choose to join their colleagues on the jetties or not, there's no question there will be a battle on the jetties come Sunday.