It’s not like Chris Kennedy and his coastal fishing buddy Steven Hooter saw this coming when they sent in their registration for this year’s Louisiana Saltwater Series.
But Saturday, when the waves from a somewhat turbulent 2016 LASS schedule ended with the final day of the annual two-day championship, the team scored a first, an unprecedented feat of taking the Team of the Year Award for their finishes during the series’ regular-season events and winning the championship.
“Never been done before in this series and maybe never been done in this kind of redfish competition around the country,” LASS director Sam Barbera said this week. “It’s a big accomplishment, because winning Team of Year means you’re consistent, and winning the championship means you’re just good.”
It didn’t come easy: Kennedy and Hooter, the latter goes by the nickname “Fuzzy,” claimed a hard-to-beat position with a solid 16.64-pound catch during Friday’s first round. That meant each of their two redfish averaged more than eight pounds, a terrific average from a catch with a 16-inch minimum and less-than-27-inches long restriction.
They came in with 15.49 pounds Saturday to find out eventual runners-up Casey Brunning and Ty Hibbs had a 16.68-pound catch to back up Friday’s 15.24 pounds.
When the totals were rendered, the winners’ 31.13 pounds were barely three ounces better than Brunning-Hibbs 31.92 total. And those three ounces meant Kennedy and Hooter took home $4,300 in the winner-take-all event.
While neither Kennedy nor Hooter confirmed their location, reports were the pair were in the Sandy Point area casting into schools of redfish, stopping only to measure and cull from dozens of reds to get to their final catch weights.
“The (championship) turned out to be extra competitive,” Barbera said. “Our participation for the year was on par with past years. It was a unique year because we had to cancel two events due to weather, and we had two husband-and-wife teams, Gino and Alisha Liberto and Shawn and April Hrubes; a father-and-son team, Jack and Vito Neal; and, a brother-brother team, Charlie and Hunter Howell, finish in the top 10 in Team of the Year standings.
“So, it was a great year because we were able to make it a family event,” Barbera said.
High-schoolers up north
Proof of the steady growth in high school bass fishing showed Saturday on the Red River out of Colfax when 132 teams competed in the Louisiana High School Bassmasters Fall qualifier.
The top five teams came from south Louisiana, four of them from the Ascension Anglers, led by the winning team of Cade Fortenberry and Brennon Edmond, whose five bass weighed 15.6 pounds. They were far ahead of the second-place team of Sam Bergeron and Andres Barletta. Fortenberry had the big bass, a 4.42-pounder. Hahnville High School’s Luke Cheramie and Hayden Theriot finished third in front of the respective efforts by AA’s teams of Grant Bourque and Ethan Smart, and Caleb Mayers and Dane Balfantz.
Spinnerbaits and soft-plastic lures worked around wood were the most productive tactics.
Calm weather and little rain have triggered more good days than lean ones along the coast during the past two weeks.
Frank Moore at Shell Beach reports the Biloxi Marsh is giving up trout, reds, drum, sheepshead and flounder on live shrimp, while the reports from the Bayou Dularge area is that trout are taking light-colored soft plastics worked under a cork. Other species, including freshwater catfish (in the marshes) are eating live and market shrimp.
Water issues surrounding the state’s 2017 Coastal Master Plan is the topic for a meeting set Tuesday evening at Cabela’s in Gonzales.
CCA Louisiana, Ducks Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership are hosts. Food and beverages will be served at 5:30 p.m. with the presentation and Q&A set to begin at 6:15 p.m.
The three groups’ release indicated the focus is on public information about the five-year revision for the master plan, potential draft-plan projects and how the public can comment on projects and the overall plan.
For hunting dogs
Quail Forever’s Southwest Louisiana and Atchafalaya Region chapters are teaming up with the South Louisiana Vizsla Club for a first event they’ve labeled, “Basic Field First Aid & Snake Avoidance Training for Dog,” set from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 29 at the Neupoint Farm, 242 Henry Road in Sunset.
The fee is $75 per dog. The focus is on preventing upland dogs to avoid snake bites, and organizers promise there will be “no harm to dog, handler or snake.”
For details, call Paul Frischertz (337) 476-7121 or Chadwick Linder (225) 281-3279.