Think of modern electronics and fishing, and smart phones, while “smart,” seldom figure into the picture among depth/fish finders, mapping, GPS locators and side-view imaging.
Until Saturday that’s what Eric Gilchrist thought, too, until he was checking out the LSU-Syracuse football game on his phone while competing in the Anglers Against Autism bass tournament.
“I was watching (Leonard) Fournette run down the sideline for a touchdown when I felt something, and said to myself ‘Ooh, that’s a fish,’ ” the Plaquemine angler said. “I set the hook.”
In the next couple of minutes, Gilchrist and his partner for the day, Randy Graham, had more to celebrate than Fournette’s dash to the end zone.
That “something” on the end of Gilchrist’s line turned out to be the tournament’s big bass, a 5.22-pounder, but technology failed when it came to capturing an image of the two men with the lunker — it didn’t show up in the list of photos in my camera. Sorry, Eric.
Gilchrist’s catch was only one of three 12 inches or longer “keepers” for their day in the Verret basin, but it mimicked what the other top Anglers Against Autism finishers said were the secrets to their successes. Gilchrist said he used a June bug-colored Brush Hog in what was, he said, “an otherwise slow day on the water.”
Another near 4-pound bass reportedly inhaled a 10-inch tequila sunrise ripple-tail worm, a color that stirred the bass world 20 years ago, but hasn’t been named in the wake of other color options in the past decade.
As best as could be determined, at least four of the top five teams, led by Byron Keith-Scott Thibodeaux team’s 14.32-pound stringer, were on the Lake Verret-Belle River side of the levee as opposed to launching into the Atchafalaya Spillway at Doiron’s Landing in Stephensville.
Sandy Gaudet and Tommy Scioneaux finished second in the Spillway. Gaudet said he was punching through patches of water hyacinths laying downed trees with a Mr. Twister Poc’it Craw.
“We had our limit (five bass) by 8 o’clock, but couldn’t get one to call that one small fish,” Gaudet said after weighing in 13.58 pounds.
There was a back-to-the-basic approach for the other Verret Basin guys: Chad Porto and Kevin Medine, two guys who know the Verret area better than the proverbial backs of their hands, laid down a simple approach to their fifth-place, 12.92-pound finish.
Medine said they decided to work a stretch of Lake Palourde, the southernmost lake in the Verret Basin, a large, round lake that makes up the northern boundary of Morgan City.
Palourde’s northern and eastern shorelines are lined with cypress and tupelo gum trees, and has enough water flowing through run-outs and passes to feed baitfish to bass holding on the trees. It’s the least fished waters among its northern neighbors, Lake Verret and Grassy Lake.
“There was no secret,” Porto said. “We put the trolling motor down, went fishing and didn’t pick up the trolling motor until we were ready to come back in.”
Porto said they found what he described as “solid fish,” and their catch was 2-3 pounders.
“You just have to go fishing some days, and this was one of those days,” Porto said. “We trolled for 500 yards and nothing, didn’t get a fish, then would hit a stretch that produced four, five, six and seven bites.
“And there was no pattern, nothing that you could key on to explain why fish were in one spot and not another. You couldn’t figure it out, but you knew you just couldn’t give up on a place like that.”
Porto said, and Medine nodded agreement, that they started the morning flipping trees and brush with Brush Hogs and stayed with that tactic throughout the day that produced more fish than anyone else, except Gaudet, talked about catching on a day when anglers talked about battling the effects of a full-moon phase.
Porto had a familiar response about fishing on a full moon, that the action was good in the very early morning, but peaked in the middle of the day.
“We caught our better (heavier) fish at noon,” he said.
Gaudet echoed the observations of all who launched on the Atchafalaya Spillway side of the basin’s East Guide Levee — lots of dirty water, even in the big lakes, including Grand Lake.
Because water clears around hyacinths pushed up against down trees and brush tops explains why he “punched the lilies.”
Other spots that produced bass, most of them smaller than two pounds, were grass beds in the larger lakes, like Duck Lake and Flat Lake.
Fishermen who hit those areas early Saturday morning reported action on small bass on the edges of the grass beds, but said bass appeared to have retreated into the heavy grass after the sun got high in the sky.