Retirement must have its advantages: Proof is the number of old-timers showed up Friday for the 7th annual Seniors bass tournament.
The 80 some-odd fishermen stunned organizers Wayne Tucker and Dub Noel — you have to be 55 and older to qualify for the morning-only, three-bass limit get-together — and the best part is they were able to feed lunch to all who competed. The tournament’s first effort, back around the time of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, drew 26 anglers, and it’s grown steadily ever since.
Possibly more stunning was the winning weight, 11.17 pounds, of the three fish Paul Sparacino and David Sicard brought to the scales. It’s only the second time the winners have topped 11 pounds.
While the day’s big bass, a 4.99-pounder Steve Fontana caught from the Belle River area, wasn’t a tournament record, it was impressive and helped he and “Slip” Knapp take second at 9.1 pounds. Tom Evins, fishing alone, was third at 8.42 pounds.
Maybe the most impressive is 92-year-old Tony Latino was in the field for the seventh time.
Caleb Sumrall of New Iberia and Neal Normand of Gonzales will represent Louisiana in the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society’s Nation nationals later this year after placing first in the boater and nonboater divisions in the Nation Central Regional late last week on Lake of the Ozarks at Osage Beach, Missouri.
Sumrall came in with 14 bass (one shy of a three-day, five-bass-a-day limit) weighing 45-2 to top the other nine Louisiana “boater” team anglers.
Normand topped the 10-man state nonboaters with a three-day limit weighing 24-6. Nonboaters had a three-fish-a-day limit.
Division fishermen from 18 other states have their top anglers also qualify for the nationals through this event.
Sumrall and Norman will attempt to duplicate the feat of Gonzales’ Ryan Lavigne, who qualified for the Bassmaster Classic through November’s nationals.
Causeway on fire
A handful of reports over the past weekend showed big numbers of speckled trout on the northern reaches of the Causeway.
Word was trout, mostly in the 1 1/2- to 3-pound range, were taking a variety of soft plastics worked on three-eighth ounce jigheads on the bottom from spots near the middle of the 24-mile-long span to three miles from the north shore.
With 2-4 inch-long pogeys showing up in big numbers on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain, brightly colored plastics likely will work better than darker colors. A touch of chartreuse coloring on the plastics’ tails helps.
Requests came in to repeat last week’s list of websites outdoorsmen can use for weekend conditions:
- Weather Underground: wonderground.com. Users can type in locations across the state and the country and get current conditions, a 10-day forecast, and by clicking on a particular day can determine hour-by-hour predicted temperatures, winds, precipitation and barometric pressure.
- National Weather Service’s River Forecast Center: crh.noaa.gov. Users can find out current Mississippi River states, get a seven-day summery and forecast, and a 28-day forecast of projected river levels from several Louisiana locations. Bly clicking on “Observed and Forecast River Conditions” (from the menu left of the Mississippi River clock) you can find river levels at five points along the Atchafalaya River, and stages of the main Florida Parishes’ river.
- National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Forecasts: nws.noaa.gov. Find the “Coastal/Great Lakes Forecasts by Zones – Gulf – New Orleans, La.” and a map with 13 different nearshore, offshore and Lake Pontchartrain wind and waves predictions for the next five days.