Bass awaken with cooler temps _lowres

Photo provided by DAVID CAVELL Calcasieu lunker Blake Betz was on the Calcasieu River two weeks ago scouting out the waters for the Louisiana Bass Federation's final state-team qualifier for this year when he latched onto this giant 8-pound largemouth. He was 'punching' heavy grassbeds with a black/blue/orange-colored punch skirt on a three-eighths ounce weight with a red/black Missile Baby D soft-plastic bait as a trailer on the lure. Betz, who competes with the Ascension Area Anglers club, didn't find this giant during the two-day event, and finished eighth in the tournament, but his year's totals qualified him second among the 13-angler state team that will complete in the B.A.S.S. Federation's Central Divisional tournament.

The first fundraising bass tournament that fished on the edge of the first big-time cold front of the season showed what most old-time bass fishermen thought it would.

Last weekend’s Jacob Dugas Memorial Tournament — it raises money for the local American Cancer Society chapter — produced 47 five-bass limits from among the 75 teams enters in the 13th annual event.

That’s way ahead of the curve.

Caston Milioto teamed with Victor Guidry for a 16.96-pound stringer to take home the $3,000 first-place money, but the team of Jan Hebert and Mike Venable pushed the winners hard with a 16.08-pound catch. There were six more stringers at 14-plus pounds.

From reports, it appeared neither side of the levee, that’s the Atchafalaya on the west and Belle River-Lake Verret on the east, produced markedly better than the other.

There were loads of bass caught on both sides, and 1) showed Friday’s passage of the first major cold front only served to awaken bass from their summer doldrums, and 2) bass were feeding heavily on shad and small bluegill that were blown into the larger bayous by 20-knot north winds.

“We caught 60, maybe 70 bass,” one of the anglers among the top 15 said. (He begged his name not be used).

“We stayed on points most all day and actually had bass schooling and running shad on points in the Intracoastal Canal (on the Belle River side),” he said. “We were casting light-colored spinnerbaits and the bass were hanging around wood on the points. It was the best day’s fishing I’ve had in a long time.”

Similar reports came from the Atchafalaya, where the best overall action came early on points in Grand Lake and cypress points on Flat Lake, and later in the day along points on the northern side of the major bayous.

Chad Porto and Steve Gullotto always fish the Verret side and came in fourth with a 14.52-pound catch.

A Dugas Tournament oddity was that the Milioto-Guidry team didn’t place among the top three in the big-bass standings. Honors there, and $375, went to the third-place overall team of Douglas Martin and Terry Vicknair. Their lunker weighed 4.72 pounds.

Pink matters

With as many as four charities benefiting from the proceeds, women are urged to trek to the state’s only inhabited barrier island for the 8th annual Grand Isle Ladies Fishing Rodeo set Friday and Saturday at Bridge Side Marina.

There’s all the usual categories for the women — mothers and daughters are urged to form a team — and the ladies are urged to wear pink throughout their two days on the water and at the weigh-ins.

Tickets run $20 and includes a rodeo cap, chances for door prizes and Saturday’s dinner-dance after the final weigh-in.

Money raised will go to the American Cancer Society’s Taylor Hope Lodge in New Orleans, Mary Bird Perkins at Terrebonne General Medical in Houma, the Cancer Center at Thibodaux Regional Hospital, and The Wig Room at Our Lake of the Sea Hospital in Golden Meadow.

For more info, call the Grand Isle Port Commission (985) 787-2229 and ask for Martha.

No jacket

As is the case with more than 80 percent of all boating fatalities, Wildlife and Fisheries’ agents reported recovering the body of 38-year-old Houma resident Wallace Bailey Jr. early Monday morning.

The search for Bailey began Sunday and continued through Sunday night after the LDWF and the St. Mary Sheriff’s Office reportedly received a report that Bailey and his 64-year-old father, Wallace Sr., were thrown from a bateau in the Intracoastal Waterway near Bayou Boeuf.

The report stated: “According to witnesses, Wallace Bailey Jr. was operating a small aluminum skiff with a hand tiller steering motor with his father Wallace Bailey Sr., 64, of Morgan City, as the passenger. The skiff crossed a wake and quickly turned ejecting both men into the water and sinking the vessel.”

Wallace Bailey Sr. was pulled from the water by other boaters, but Wallace Bailey Jr. didn’t resurface.

Despite state regulations that require mandatory life jackets for anyone using a hand-tiller outboard, neither man was wearing a life jacket.

Big reward

The LDWF’s Enforcement Division is offering up to $7,000 for information that will lead to an arrest and subsequent conviction for the person or persons responsible to killing a black bear in Concordia Parish.

Two groups put up $5,000 and the other $2,000 is split between the Operation Game Thief Program and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Foundation.

Agents reported a fisherman found the decomposed bear Sept. 1 in the Atchafalaya River. The bear, a 4-year-old female, was among the ones state biologists tracked with a radio collar, and said the bear “was normally tracked in the Turnbull Island area of Concordia Parish.”

Killing a black bear violated both state law and the federal Endangered Species Act. Convictions can draw a $50,000 fine and up to six months in jail along with a $10,000 civil fine for restitution to the state for its efforts in re-establishing the black bear in its native Louisiana range.

Anyone with information can call the Operation Game Thief (800) 442-2511.

Sight-in days

Bill Cobb ran down the information from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office concerning its annual Hunter’s Sight-in Program.

Mark you calendars for Oct. 28-Nov. 3, the week before the opening of the firearms for deer seasons in the Capital City area. Hours are 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

The range is located off U.S. 61 at 999 West Irene Road in Zachary.

The rules are simple: All weapons will be sighted in by the range staff; all weapons must be in good working condition with all actions open when entering the range; hunters must furnish only factory ammo; no reloads will be used; and, muzzleloaders are not allowed.