If a late-August weekend translates into terrific fishing in September, south Louisiana better prepare for one heck of a celebration.
The youngsters who showed up at the Belle River Public Launch for the final Junior Southwest Bassmaster’s tournament of the summer showed how productive the Atchafalaya Spillway can be when the water “gets right.”
The top three anglers in the 15-18 age group, Austin Roberts, Dillon King and Cameron Gautreau, and the top two guys in the 11-14 age group, Colby Badeaux and Justin Watts, brought in five-bass limits, making it the most productive outing of the year for the Denham Springs-based club. And Jackson Landry, the winner in the 7-10 age-group, had a solid 2-1/2-pound big bass.
That’s just the half of it: Gonzales national pro Greg Hackney blazed a new trail for Louisiana bass anglers.
Hackney won the Bassmaster Elite Series event Sunday on Cayuga Lake in New York and earned an automatic berth in the 2015 Classic set February on Lake Hartsell on the South Carolina-Georgia border.
And there’s more: Hackney’s win improved his lead in the Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year standings heading into the tour’s final showdown next month on far-north Lake Michigan.
Hackney leads the 109-angler field by 16 points after eight Elite events. If he finishes in the top 15 in the AOY Championship (Sept. 18-21 in Escanaba, Michigan), he’ll become the first Louisiana-based fishermen to claim the Angler of the Year title. That’ll add another $100 grand to the $101,500 he brought home Sunday.
Hackney’s eight-tournament total stands at 664 points. Aaron Martens, the reigning AOY champion, is next at 649, and Todd Faircloth, who finished a distant second to Hackney on Cayuga — Hackney won by more than nine pounds — is third with 647 points.
The way Bassmaster folks are working this new event is that only the top 50 anglers in the points standings will get a chance to fish in September. This new tournament has a $900,000 purse, with $685,000 divided by AOY final standings for all 50 anglers. The rest of the $215,000 will go in order of tournament finish.
While it wasn’t surprising Hackney won, the big surprise in aftermath of the New York tournament was that seven-time Angler of the Year and four-time Bassmaster Classic champion Kevin VanDam did not qualify among the top 50 and will miss the Classic for the first time in 25 years. His 24-year Classic run ended when he finished 53rd in the AOY standings.
Some 15 other Elite anglers who were in the 2014 Classic field also missed the cut. Among them are veterans Tommy Biffle, Gary Klein, Terry Scroggins, Fred Roumbanis and Ish Monroe.