MANY — Louisiana angling was well represented at the Bassmaster High School Central Open on Saturday on Toledo Bend Reservoir.
More than 70 percent of the 357 anglers competing in the tournament came from the Bayou State, though neighboring states were well represented, too. Others traveled from as far as South Carolina, Illinois and Michigan.
None was more impressive than the Sam Houston High School duo of Hunter Courvelle and Alex Erickson, who won the one-day event with a five-bass limit that weighed 23 pounds, 3 ounces. That was one ounce shy of the one-day record, set by another pair from Louisiana: Alex Heintze and Justin Watts of the Livingston Parish Bassmasters during the 2015 high school national championships on Kentucky Lake in Tennessee.
Heintze and Watts came closest to knocking Courvelle and Erickson from the top of the leaderboard this year. The Sam Houston tandem weighed in relatively early, but Heintze and Watts were among the last of the 181 teams at the scales. Their total was a 22-3.
There was more than just bragging rights on the line. Courvelle and Erickson qualified for the Bassmaster high school national championship, and the 18 teams immediately trailing them in the standings also qualified for the event. That event will be held in June at a site to be announced.
The top five teams in the Central Open also earned a spot in the Bassmaster High School Classic, to be held in conjunction with the Bassmaster Classic later this month in Houston. Courvelle and Erickson also earned $1,500 for the Sam Houston High bass fishing program.
“This is a great feeling,” Erickson said. “We fish here almost every weekend, so we know some of the spots where we should go.”
They found their best spot during practice for the Central Open. They threw Carolina-rigged Flukes (watermelon red) in 6 to 8 feet of water on a flat only a few hundred yards from Cypress Bend Park, where the launch and weigh-in took place. The biggest fish of the creel weighed about 7½ pounds and was caught in Housen Bay on the Texas side of the reservoir.
Heintze and Watts countered by throwing Carolina rigs and football-head jigs to fill their limit. Carter Pourciau and Zack Naquin of Assumption finished third with a limit that weighed 20-14.
Nolan Wright and Coltin Pool of Blanchard (Oklahoma) High were fourth at 19-5, and Jackson Hall and Daniel Helsley of Lovejoy (Texas) High placed fifth at 19-3.