Cade Fortenberry, a consistently high finisher in state, regional and national tournaments, was selected for the 2017 Bassmaster High School All-State team.
The St. Amant High School angler was joined by Colby Miller of Elmer on the two-man team. Annabelle Guins of Lake Charles was one of three girls selected for the list. Guins was named “honorable mention” from Louisiana along with Wes Rollo of Natchitoches.
Fortenberry and Miller are among 69 high school-age fishermen from 40 states selected. The Bassmaster announcement says judges will pare those 69 young anglers down to 12 finalists for the Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team for a one-day Bassmaster All-American High School tournament to be held during the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest set May 17-21 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir near Lufkin, Texas.
At that event, the young fishermen will have Bassmaster Elite series anglers for teammates and coaches, and the 12 will be features in an upcoming edition of Bassmaster Magazine.
Fortenberry, of Prairieville, competes with the Ascension Anglers. He teamed with Braden Blanchard to take second place in the 2015 High School Nationals and finished behind the Livingston Parish champions Alex Heintze and Justin Watts.
Mississippi’s team included Russell Brown of Hattiesburg and James Willoughby of Gulfport.
Bass Anglers Sportsman Society CEO Bruce Akin said nominated students were selected based “on their success in bass tournament competition, academic achievement and leadership in conservation and community service.”
The 380 across-the-country nominations for 10th- through 12th-graders came from parents, coaches, teachers and school officials and the judging criteria included success in high school fishing tournaments, involvement in conservation efforts and other community service activities. Students must have a minimum of a 2.5 grade-point average.
“Our all-state team is such a strong group of young anglers who have tremendous fishing accomplishments, as well as extensive community service and academic achievements,” B.A.S.S. High School program manager Hank Weldon said.
Take heart all you young bass fishermen, because there’s a new wunderkind on the block and he's ready to pump you up.
Jordan Lee, all of 25 years on Planet Earth, stunned the bass-fishing world when he came from way, way back Saturday and Sunday to win the 47th Bassmasters Classic.
Just four years ago, Lee, competing for Auburn, earned the college champion’s berth in the Classic. He finished sixth against stiff competition. Lee qualified for the 2016 Classic and ended up 29th, and appeared ready for another low finish on Lake Conroe when, in the Friday’s first round, he weighed in only three bass weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces.
Then he went back to something he’d found during one of the pre-Classic practice days. It was along a hard-bottomed point, a place he tried to fish — without success — during Friday’s hard winds and 4-5 foot waves pounding the main lake.
“With zero fish in the box at noon on the second day, I went back to that spot and caught a 7 1/2-pounder on the first cast,” Lee told the post-tournament presser. “When I was landing that fish, there was a whole school of 5- and 6-pounders that came with it.
“Right then, I knew something was about to happen — and I caught two more that were both big.”
He ended up with four bass that day, Saturday, but 21 pounds shot him from 37th to 15th place to survive the cut to the top 25.
He went back Sunday, still 14 pounds behind two-day leader Brent Erhler, and made history when he worked the same area, this time with what he said was a “a football jig with a Rage Craw and a Space Monkey for a trailer,” and brought 27-4, the tournament’s single-day heaviest catch.
Then he waited for more than a hour, through 11 more anglers weighing their catches, to find out Erhler had the five-bass limit but only 11-10. Ehrler finished third. Steve Kennedy, also of Alabama, finished second at 55-1.
Lee’s 56-10 was just too much for anyone to overcome. It meant the slender young man hauled in nine bass weighing 48-4 the final two days, and the $300,000 win pushed his four-year, pro-career earnings past $650,000.
“To all of the guys fishing the college tournaments right now,” Lee said, “this just says you can do it. “It’s hard work — and you’re going to have a lot of days out here that aren’t good. On this lake, I wasn’t sure there was any way I could do it. But you’re never out of it here.”
Lee had to sweat through the final few anglers, including Kennedy who weighed in 21-15 and fell just 1-9 short of the title. The final angler with a chance to unseat Lee from the top of the leaderboard was Ehrler, who's 11-10 weight finished third with 54-14.
Ehrler earned the $2,500 Berkley Big Bass Award for the 9-12 he caught Friday.
Ryan Lavigne’s first shot at the Bassmaster Classic is over and he’s back at work at Marathon in Geismar.
The Gonzales man, who qualified through the Bassmaster Nation club-affiliated nationals, came in Sunday with two bass weighing 11-12 after standing among just 12 of the 52 anglers who’d brought in two-day limits through Saturday’s second round. His final 41-9 catch left him in 16th place.
“I was disappointed about that last day, but am very proud of what I accomplished,” Lavigne said Tuesday. “You launch your boat with a plan to win and I believe I had the right plan. Overall, I’m happy with the outcome.”
Lavigne said he worked lots of small areas throughout Sunday and caught as many as 30 bass, but only two solid bass that would make it to the scales.
“I think my timing was off. I was seeing more and more prespawning fish, but they were deeper than I expected them to be,” he said.
Cliff Crochet of Pierre Part was a couple of steps behind Lavigne at 39-10 in 19th place, and Gonzales’ 14-time Classic qualifier Greg Hackney finished 30th with 18-15.
For Lavigne, like for any bass angler with a dream of fishing this “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing,” the experience was invaluable.
“The Classic was way more than what I expected,” he said. “I did not know how I was going to take it all in, not knowing if I was going to be nervous on the stage. I don’t do well with crowds, but it turned out to be easy. I wasn’t nervous.
“I was nervous on the first morning. Right before we took off, I had to go sit in the boat and get over it. It was overwhelming at that point,” he said.
And when Monday morning came?
“I woke up the day after the Classic and went, “Wow,” Lavigne said. “It was over, but just being there the whole week fueled the fire. I might never get to go back, but I’m going to do everything I can to get back. I was happy and proud to make it to Day 3. Not everybody gets to do that against the best bass fishermen in the world.
“I know this. I know what Jordan did on the last day was amazing, and I know I left something out there on that lake, and it’s something I want to get back.”
Dub Noel said the annual Senior Bass tournament will be April 7. Registration will be held in the predawn hours, usually around 6 a.m., at Paizano’s at the Belle River bridge on La. 70. It’s for the 55-and-older crowd.
There’s a $55 entry fee per angler. Fishermen can launch anywhere as long as they can make it for the noon weigh-in deadline on the outside of the Atchafalaya Spillway levee at the Belle River Public Landing. Fishing south of U.S. 90 is prohibited.
With numbers swelling during past years, the expected payout could run 15 deep with three spots in the big-bass kitty.
Noel said lunch and post-tournament refreshments are included in the fee.