Before south Louisiana runs headlong into the hunting season, we need to celebrate a terrific fishing year.
OK, so there’s lots of catching up to do to close out 2014. The good news is that reports show an increase in the speckled trout action from what otherwise was a dismal spring and summer.
Our great news came from three guys who call south Louisiana home after they put our state on the competitive fishing map.
Gonzales national touring pro Greg Hackney became the first Louisianan to claim the Angler of the Year title on a national Bassmaster tour. Hackney came through nine Elite Series tournaments, had a win, beat out 108 other top-flight anglers, and will have Boat No. 1 when the Bassmaster Classic rolls into South Carolina in February.
Right behind him at the Classic will be Pierre Part’s Cliff Crochet, who’ll take time this week to marry Sara, the woman he called a “hot” fiancé from an Elite Series stage this year. Crochet will be in the field on Hartwell after finishing in the top 25 in the Elite Series.
The third is Steve Lessard, the ardent Baton Rouge kayak fishermen who won the 4th Hobie Fishing World Championship on waters called the “Vinkeveen Plassen” in The Netherlands.
Lessard earned his way on the five-man USA team with solid finishes in 2013 and 2014, and used his experience from years of catching fish from a Hobie kayak to more than prove he could catch fish anywhere, anytime.
But to believe he could travel to northern Europe, pursue fish he’d never caught, work out a strategy, then refine tactics to catch species like pike and perch is something that lives only in most fishermen’s dreams.
Lessard caught a pike and a perch all three championship days — the only one in the 47-angler field representing 19 countries to do that — and he won going away. Yep, this guy boated, then released fish totaling 364 centimeters (2.54 cm to the inch) and the second-place finisher, Canadian Kyle Moxon, had 274 cm.
Mentioning Moxon adds another dimension to Lessard’s storied win.
Seems Lessard came up with a plan to use a 12-inch-long eel imitation to go after pike because he’d learned pike like giant lures and, because it was the longest fish in tournament waters, it had to be the first-catch target.
So Lessard got a pike and a perch to take the first-day lead, and caught a 95 cm pike and a 25 cm perch early on the second day. Moxon was fishing the same area with the same lures.
“The Canadian lost the pike he had on, then he lost his lure. ... It was the only one he had,” Lessard said confirming a story that came out days later.
“It meant he was done for the day, so I cut my eel off and gave it to him,” Lessard said. “I didn’t want to win that way, and catching his second pike that day was the reason he ended up in second place.”
What a story! What a year for Louisiana fishing!