FREEPORT — As the 72nd annual Fishin’ Fiesta closed Sunday, rods, reels, coolers and prize money were handed out to big winners.
After five days of fishing from about 400 registered anglers and hundreds of different species of fish weighed, it was time to name those who finished at the top of their categories to close out events.
Lake Jackson’s Ted Broaddus had an especially notable finish, placing first in the red fish category with his 10.12-pounder.
This was Broaddus’ first time winning a category, and he found a friend to blow on his ping pong ball before the Inshore grand prize winner was selected.
“I got Derrick Jones to blow on that ball because he is lucky,” Broaddus said. “Derrick is winning all of the time and I figured I’d let him blow on the ball just for luck.”
Jones was also one of the finalists for the grand prize on the Inshore division after placing first in the croaker category.
When his name was selected as the winner, Broaddus said he was stunned.
“I have no idea what I am doing with the money, but really I am still in a bit of a daze because I won,” Broaddus said. “But I am pretty happy.”
A contract worker in the area, Broaddus took home $7,500 home and was going to hold off on any celebrations since today is a workday.
Steven Janczak of Spring walked away with the Offshore grand prize.
Only in his second year participating at Fishin’ Fiesta, Janczak caught a 37-pound king mackerel, which won the category by a mere half-pound, beating out Tracie Howell’s 36 1/2-pound catch.
But Janczak didn’t describe the previous few days as fun.
“It had been a rough trip. We’d been fishing out all week, out six days,” Janczak said. “I burned down a ribbon fish and hit it out of the hole and it started to drip and drag and after five minutes got him in the boat.”
Fishing about 150 miles out in the Gulf, Janczak and his friends worked their way back inshore. They were still about 80 miles out when he caught the winner.
“I will fish for any type of fish, including grouper, king mackerel, tuna and a bunch of others,” Janczak said. “This just gives me more money to fish and I can also repair my boat.”
Janczak was on a boat called the Phoenix and caught his king mackerel Thursday.
There were also two juvenile winners; the Inshore grand prize winner was Tanner White and the Offshore grand prize winner was Jackson Ward.
Both White and Ward won a plaque to go with new tackle boxes, rods, reels and an ice chest.
White also set one of two Fishin’ Fiesta records set this season with a 6.56-pound flounder.
Ward won the ling category with a 31 1/2-pounder he caught offshore.
The other record for the tournament belonged to Lloyd Langlinais from Angleton with an 8.28-pound gigged flounder.
Langlinais’ record-setting catch snatched away the honor from Mark Maroul who first set it only a day before with a 6.57-pound gigged flounder catch.
The biggest catch during the tournament ended up being a grouper caught by Brendan Brimage weighing in at 209 1/2 pounds. Bringing that one in was no walk in the park, he said.
“It was an adrenaline rush and all I was doing was just glaring over the side of the boat, wondering when was this thing going to come up,” Brimage said. “It felt like it took forever.”
It took Brimage about 30 minutes to reel in the monster as he and his family were about 100 miles out.
Three anglers cleaned up in their categories. Thomas Bailey from Hitchcock won all three places in the gafftop in the Inshore division with catches of 5.67, 5.61, 5.45 pounds.
A couple of Inshore juveniles also did the same, with Zane Fugler winning the gar division with catches of 126, 62 and 58 1/2 pounds; Jaxx Broussard did the same with the red fish division with catches of 9.18, 8.29 and 8.03 pounds.