Ask any dyed-in-the-wool bass fishermen what happened in south Louisiana in February and it’s like asking LSU fans who hit the home run in the 1996 College World Series championship game.
A record-setting Bassmaster Classic catch by Kevin VanDam answers the first question and Warren Morris the second.
Where it happened in February isn’t lost on bass fishermen either, especially Tony Landry, the guy who’s been making all those spinnerbaits Capital City-area bass catchers have been talking about for many months lately.
Where? Lake Cataouatche.
Like VanDam and the handful of other top pro bass anglers in Cataouatche earlier this year, it was the matter of being in the right place at the just-right time.
“It was amazing as well as the pros did in that lake and I didn’t know why we couldn’t do it,” Landry said
And he and his partner for Saturday’s annual St. Michael’s Church Bass Tournament did it, a 24.06-pound, five-bass stringer that stands as the heaviest single-day, south Louisiana tournament catch since the early spring.
“I’ve done well in that lake, but never had that kind of success in a tournament,” Landry said. “I guess we caught 20 fish. It was one of those dream days.”
To be sure — a dream for Landry and Vicknair and a nightmare for the rest of the St. Michael’s field. Bennie Cashio and Duane Deslattes finished a distance second at 13.87 pounds. Landry and Vicknair had the big bass, a 6.16-pounder, nearly two pounds ahead of the 4.17-pounder brought in by Tim Carmouche and Cary Beard.
Landry had figured that last week’s north winds turned Cataouatche into the right place.
“The north wind blew the water out about a foot and a half and when the lake fell it pulled all the water out of the canals and that pulled the fish out with it,” Landry said.
“We caught on the main points near (Lake) Salvador where the fish had to hold,” he said. “With the wind blowing on the points (on the south end of the Cataouatche), it put the bait there, too. The shad and the shrimp were jumping all over that area.”
Naturally, the top producer was a Humdinger spinnerbait, one Landry modified to suit the area.
“It’s a quarter-ounce (lure) with chartreuse and white skirt and one green blade and one gold blade,” Landry said. “Lately, we’ve found that combination works in Venice and the marsh area. The pogeys get greenish tint to them and we’ve seen fish come from five feet away to hit the bait.”
Any chance that Cataouatche pattern will continue?
“Probably not,” Landry said. “By now, the water is too black. It’s been pulled out too far. Initially, when the water begins to fall the fish pile up on the points and feed. But, I believe it was a one-shot deal.
“I’m hoping it’s not, but something has killed all the grass in the lake (Cataouatche), and the lake is fishing small right now,” Landry said. “The reason all those big fish have been caught in there is the grass that’s been in the lake the last few years.
“Now it looks like a soup bowl in there. When you get hydrilla growing in 6-7 feet of water with river water (Davis Pond Diversion) running over the top of the grass, then that’s the mark of a great fishery,” Landry said.
“I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping the grass will come back.”